Stephen M. Leffler, MD, is Chief Medical Officer at The University of Vermont Medical Center.

Stephen M. Leffler, MD, is Chief Medical Officer at The University of Vermont Medical Center.

Patient Safety Awareness Week gives us a chance to pause for a second in our busy days and remember why we are all here. We are here to work with our patients and their families to deliver the highest quality, SAFEST care that we can possibly provide.

Patient safety means “freedom from accidental injury due to medical care or medical errors” (Institute of Medicine). Getting it right every single time is what we are striving for. We have built many systems to help us provide high quality, safe care; the care each of us wants for our loved ones and friends. We have been able to achieve some amazing results through all of our employees’ efforts.

We have been nationally recognized many times for our high quality care. Still, we must continually strive to be better. We understand that no human being is perfect; therefore, we try to anticipate latent errors and create safety systems that prevent the inevitable occasional human error from reaching our patients. This requires everyone – no matter what they do – to be focused every day on doing their job in the safest way possible.

We must all speak up when something doesn’t seem right. We must hold each other accountable. This is not just the job of our amazing patient safety teams. It is everyone’s job.  “Uniting” for patient safety also means that we support patients as partners in their care. The National Patient Safety Foundation has developed the Universal Patient Compact. This document describes ways that health care providers and patients can work together to ensure the best care possible.

Throughout the year, we have celebrated employees from diverse roles within the organization who have identified and reported potential safety issues, including transporters, pharmacists, residents, environmental service staff, patient observers, and nurses. Because of their patient safety focus, systems and processes were changed to enhance safety.

Our theme this year is “United for Patient Safety.” I love that. We are a team of more than 7,500 dedicated members. Working together, we can achieve amazing results for our patients. We can provide high quality, safe care every time. Care that we can be proud of and that we want for our friends and families. We are all members of the patient safety team at the UVM Medical Center. We rely on our employees and thank them for their contributions to the outstanding care we provide. There are many activities planned throughout the week. Look for daily emails describing the events. Thank you for your hard work and diligence on behalf of our patients.

Stephen M. Leffler, MD, FACEP, is the Chief Medical Officer at the UVM Medical Center, former Medical Director of the Emergency Department, and has been a practicing physician for 20 years. He is also a Professor at the Larner College of Medicine at UVM. He grew up in Brandon, Vermont.

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