President’s Update: September 2021

September 29, 2021

What Do Patient Safety and Gratitude Have in Common?

Wendy Nickel

September 28, 2021

My house is very busy right now. With two kids in high school and one in middle school, the house is abuzz with activity by 6:30 a.m.  Packing lunches, arguing about who gets to shower first and shotgun, and putting books in backpacks, it is a familiar and welcome clamor. My children are going to school after a year and a half of being home. An unnatural interruption, a pause in life, a time lapse that I can only pray will not have long-term consequences on their development. They are going to school and I am grateful.

I am sincerely grateful to the clinicians who persevered against great odds to selflessly take care of COVID patients. Without appropriate personal protective equipment or enough knowledge for how to protect themselves or their patients, they used patient safety best practices and principles to fight against COVID. I am grateful to the frontline leaders and teams who analyzed and evaluated events related to COVID to ensure that future patients would be protected and harm would be minimized. I am grateful to the scientists who created a vaccine that is safe and effective. I am grateful to the first willing recipients of the COVID vaccines.

World Patient Safety Day, observed every year on September 17th, was established only two short years ago in 2019 by the World Health Organization. This past year and a half has been a constant reminder to clinicians, quality and safety leaders, administrators, and other healthcare stakeholders that patient safety must be a foremost priority when fighting a formidable enemy such as COVID. I propose that in observance of World Patient Safety Day (even though you may not be reading this column until after the day), we honor all of those who have sacrificed to protect our patients, keep them safe, and help us return to some sense of normalcy. If you are a healthcare worker who has been practicing in the throes of COVID, thank you.

As the alarm clock buzzes before dawn, the house slowly comes alive, and sounds of school buses rumble down the block, I am grateful.

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