First, Do No Harm

The last thing any caregiver wants to do is cause harm to the patient. In fact, it’s a tenet that all medical students are taught: Primum non nocere, or “First, do no harm.”

Oregon hospitals are participating in a rigorous program to report any errors that happen in a care setting, in order to root out the causes of harm and eliminate them. We call these instances of harm “adverse events” and “never events.”

The term “adverse event” describes harm to a patient as a result of receiving medical care, such as infections associated with the use of a catheter. The term “never event” refers to a specific list of serious events, such as surgery on the wrong patient, that should never occur in a health care setting.

Oregon hospitals participate in voluntary reporting of these “adverse events” and “never events,” through the Oregon Patient Safety Commission, or OPSC. As of September 30, 2011, all 58 of Oregon’s community hospitals are participating in the reporting program.

The report shows improvement in quantity, quality and timeliness overall. In 2011, Oregon hospitals submitted more adverse event reports to the OPSC than ever before. This increase, however, is not an indication that more events are occurring, but rather that Oregon hospitals are improving their ability to identify adverse events.

“With full hospital participation, we will have a comprehensive perspective about the serious adverse events that occur and how we can learn from each other to improve patient safety outcomes in Oregon,” said Diane Waldo, director of quality and clinical services for OAHHS.

To read the entire OPSC report, click here.

To find out more, visit the Oregon Patient Safety Commission contacts page.

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