The general public perceives health care to be much safer, more patient-centered, and more accessible than health care professionals do. This gap highlights the importance of patient advocates’ work to educate and protect health care consumers.
The Patient Safety Movement Foundation released a community survey report dated May, 2020 that includes the following results:
• While 79% of public respondents thought that the word “safe” described “a typical healthcare experience” well, only 42% of health care professionals did.
• 72% of public respondents thought “patients first” described a “typical healthcare experience” well, but only 36% of health care professionals agreed.
• 80% of health professionals believe that at least 75% of all medical errors can be prevented.

The report concludes that educating health care professionals and institutions – not the public – is the way to start systemic change to improve health care safety.

Those steps are of course essential, but health care consumers shouldn’t be expected to keep waiting passively for change. (Remember the Institute of Medicine report on medical error – To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health Care System – delivered to Congress in 1999?) I propose working on both sides of the health care relationship: why not educate the public about common risks and provide tools people can use to manage those risks – like checklists from The Care Partner Project and patient advocacy services? That seems likely to reduce the harm from health care “misadventures” sooner. And sooner is better than later.

Contact Square One to learn what you need to know to protect yourself and loved ones from harm from avoidable health care errors.