State Health Commissioner Says Focus on Patient Safety is Critical to Ensure Quality Health Care

March 6-12 is National Patient Safety Awareness Week

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 10, 2011) - In recognition of March 6 - 12 as National Patient Safety Awareness Week, State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., today urged health care practitioners and patients to become partners in patient safety.

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, all health care practitioners, and patients themselves have a role and responsibility to provide and promote safe, quality health care. In the last decade, health care facilities and practitioners have made significant strides to identify causes and contributing factors of medical errors, improve the detection and reporting of errors and most importantly to prevent medical errors with the goal of avoiding patient harm and improving quality of care.

"The health care community recognizes the importance of a team effort to prevent harmful errors, and that the team isn't just health care practitioners – it must also include patients and their families," Commissioner Shah said.

Health care practitioners involved in the science of error prevention have sought to educate themselves and their colleagues about patient safety and develop tools and systems to standardize care. Standardization of care reduces the likelihood of errors and plays a valuable role in creating and maintaining a culture of safety.

Dr. Shah reminded New Yorkers that they should ensure that they receive safe and appropriate health care. There are many things patients can do to help safeguard their care, including:

  • Knowing your medical history and the medications you take. Write them down, keep them up-to-date, and include over-the-counter medications as well as vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements.
  • Asking questions about your health, your medications, your test results, and all aspects of your care and treatment.
  • Involving a friend or a loved one so that if you are unable to answer questions, there will be some one who can talk with health care practitioners for you.

The National Patient Safety Foundation is the sponsor of Patient Safety Awareness Week and its mission is "to improve the safety of care provided to patients." More information is available at: