In late June 2007, the Joint Commission announced its 2008 National Patient Safety Goals and Requirements that apply to the nearly 15,000 Joint Commission-accredited and certified health care organizations and programs. The development and annual updating of these goals is overseen by an expert panel that includes patient safety experts, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, risk managers, and other professionals who have hands-on experience in addressing patient safety issues in a wide variety of health care settings.

Patient safety is at the heart of every sector in health care, and participating in a hospital committee provides a way for biomedical and clinical engineering departments to gain visibility and positively affect their workplace.

At the recent AAMI 2007 Annual Conference & Expo June 16 to 18 in Boston, AAMI recognized six special people (see Weekly Jolt, July 10) who have demonstrated a commitment to improving patient safety.

Marvin Shepherd received the 2007 AAMI Becton Dickinson Career Achievement Award. As a clinical engineer, Shepherd has been fervent in his dedication to patient safety. “The contributions he has made to health care are visible through his consulting on medical device safety issues to hospitals, manufacturers, and government agencies, as well as seminars on medical device safety, risk management, and human error,” said Izabella Gieras, manager of clinical engineering for Beaumont Services Company, LLC. (For more about Beaumont Services and patient safety see our July 2006 issue.)

According to Stephen Grimes, FACCE, director of clinical engineering for the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Shepherd’s “pioneering efforts in patient safety and forensic engineering have been the gold standard by which those of us in the field take our measure.”

W. Glenn Scales, a patient safety specialist in the Duke University Health System’s department of clinical engineering, received the 2007 AAMI/GE BMET of the Year Award. Scales played a pivotal role in the upgrading of Duke’s dialysis services. “We needed prompt, efficient, and knowledgeable technical support to ensure the safety of our dialysis patients,” said Ron Middleton, MD, director of nephrology. “Not only has Glenn aided our clinical group and our hospital, he has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to improve the care of our patients.”

In addition, Judy Prewitt, RN, associate chief nurse officer at Duke said, “I have seen Glenn champion patient safety as the primary goal for all efforts. His value is so important that we will not allow any device to come into the hospital until he has done a thorough evaluation.”

Patient safety is everyone’s concern and these are just a couple of examples of how you can participate in improving patient safety. Do you have more ideas? E-mail me and let me know your thoughts on the subject.

Julie Kirst