Next week is Patient Safety Awareness Week, and like our partners at the Oregon Patient Safety Commission, we recognize the essential role patients play in their own care and treatment.
The theme of this year's week is "Navigate Your Health … Safely," which encourages people to actively participate in decisions made about their health, especially when it comes to diagnosis. According to the National Patient Safety Foundation, experts estimate that up to one in every 10 diagnoses is wrong, delayed or missed completely. This means that in this country, diagnostic errors may account for 40,000 to 80,000 deaths every year.
The good news is that coordinated care can help. As more and more health care providers work in patient-centered teams and as we expand the use of electronic health records, we reduce the risk of something going wrong. With a greater understanding of patients' backgrounds and history, providers can see the whole picture, make better decisions and avoid potential mistakes.
Patient safety is closely tied to health system transformation. It's all about improving the health care system, increasing the quality of care, and controlling costs. When we build safer processes, it leads to overall better care, which in turn helps prevent costlier care down the road. For example, if we can build a system that prevents health care-acquired infections, we can reduce unnecessary and costly hospital readmissions and increased lengths of stay.
However, as important as improving the system is, this years' theme reminds us that we need to include the person for whom care is provided. We need to empower Oregonians with the health literacy they need to understand their care, we need to provide culturally appropriate care, and we need to promote communication between patients and their health care providers.
Knowledge and communication, on the part of both patients and providers, are key to keeping patients safe. And every Oregonian deserves a sustainable health care system that delivers safe, high-quality, cost-effective care.