By Megan Martin, Communications Manager
Patient safety has long been recognized as an integral component of quality medical care. The stakes are especially high in oncology where avoiding errors is imperative to delivering radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and other high-risk treatments. On the heels of intense media scrutiny about treatment errors, particularly related to radiation safety, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) convened the NCCN 2010 Patient Safety Summit, featuring keynote speaker Peter J. Pronovost, MD, PhD, an internationally acclaimed leader in patient safety from Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Summit was held in Bethesda, MD on October 14, 2010.
The NCCN 2010 Patient Safety Summit provided an opportunity for clinical, administrative, regulatory, and industry professionals to discuss best practices in oncology patient safety as well as to disseminate advances in oncology patient safety systems and processes. Radiation safety, strategies to prevent oral chemotherapy errors, safety and accountability, and the prevention of health care-associated infections were the focus of the Summit.
“To reach our ultimate goal – providing safer care to patients – we need to embrace concepts that will systematically change the culture within hospitals and enhance communication about medical errors. If we don’t talk about the problem, how can we expect to make meaningful strides against it?” says Peter J. Pronovost, MD, PhD. “I am happy to be participating in the NCCN 2010 Patient Safety Summit which provides a forum for health care teams in the oncology field to openly discuss innovative safety measures that promote honesty, respect, and teamwork among hospital staff, therefore improving the quality of care for patients.”
An advocate for empowering clinicians to speak freely and question their colleagues, one of Dr. Pronovost’s most notable contributions was the introduction of an intensive care checklist protocol that saved 1,500 lives and $100 million in the state of Michigan during its first 18 months. In addition, he recently collaborated with fellow Hopkins’ colleagues Stephanie Terezakis, MD; Eric Ford, PhD; and Joseph Herman, MD, to develop a system to identify points within the radiation treatment process where the potential for errors are greatest.The NCCN 2010 Patient Safety Summit featured a robust agenda that emphasized safety risks associated with new trends and practices in radiation oncology as well as strategies and methods to overcome some of these challenges; the various roles, responsibilities, and specific actions that hospital staff, patients, and visitors may take to help reduce the frequency of patient infections; and safety challenges of oral chemotherapy, a changing paradigm in cancer treatment.