About the United for Patient Safety Campaign


United for Patient Safety is an ongoing education and engagement campaign intended to bring together diverse organizations with a commitment to patient safety and the general public to learn more about the topic, start important dialogue, and take action for improved safety conditions.

United for Patient Safety seeks to focus attention on patient safety as a public health issue and to reinforce the fact that everyone has a role to play in keeping patients safe and free from harm.

As a highlight of this effort, Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 11-17, 2018, will serve as a dedicated time and platform for growing awareness about patient safety.

About Patient Safety

Health care professionals take many steps to ensure that patients do not experience preventable harm in health care. Medicine can be a high-risk field, however, and faulty systems can introduce risk or error that can result in unintended harm.

Some studies suggest that medical error may cause as many as 400,000 deaths in the US each year, but not all errors result in death. In a recent IHI/NPSF survey of a representative sample of Americans, 41 percent say they have experienced a medical error in their own care or in the care of a close relative or friend. The harms resulting from these errors include long-term or permanent impact on the patient’s physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, or their family relationships.

Errors and safety lapses can occur in any setting and take many forms:

  • According to a consensus report from the National Academy of Medicine, estimates suggest that 5 percent of US adults who seek care in outpatient settings experience a diagnostic error.
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that, at any time, 1 in 25 hospitalized patients has an infection acquired in the health setting, and that more than 1 million health care-associated infections occur across the US health system each year.
  • Medication errors and adverse events are among the most common errors in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Work is being done at the federal, state, and local levels to address patient safety. Progress has been made, particularly in reducing health-care associated infections, yet much work needs to be done.

Read more about addressing total systems safety in health care and using a public health approach to advance patient safety.


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The Institute for Healthcare Improvement salutes Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals for their generous support of this year's Patient Safety Awareness Week.