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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: February 21, 2019 02:40 PM
From: Representative Dan Frankel
To: All House members
Subject: Designating March 2019 as "Patient Safety Awareness Month"
A few years ago, a 67 year old woman was admitted to a teaching hospital to have a cerebral angiography performed. After the procedure was completed, the woman was returned to a hospital room on a different floor than her original one. Instead of being discharged as planned the next morning, she was whisked away to have an open heart procedure performed. After being on the operating table for over an hour, a doctor from a different department called and asked what they were doing with his patient. Once the mistake was realized, the procedure was canceled, and the woman was returned to her room in stable condition; however, the potential consequences of the extra surgery performed included significantly increased risks of heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding and infections.

Her case is not an isolated case, more than 250,000 people die each year from medical mistakes, according to a 2016 Johns Hopkins study. This makes medical errors the third leading cause of death, right before respiratory disease. In 2017, in Pennsylvania alone, health officials reported over 302,000 medical errors and hospital-acquired infections, according to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, of those cases almost 300 were fatal. Unfortunately, medical errors don’t get the same attention as major accidents, and can be hidden if not reported.

Despite all the great progress made in our Commonwealth to address this issue, statistics show that the goal of patient safety is yet to be fully achieved. For this reason, it is important to recognize and reaffirm the Commonwealth’s commitment to promoting patient safety through education programs, supporting research, and expanding access to safe medical treatment. Each of us will be patients at some point in our lives. By extension, all members of society have a stake in improving the safety of our health care system.

Introduced as HR139