How We Stop the Leading Causes of Hospital Deaths

Many may be unaware that preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. How are you at risk?

How We Stop the Leading Causes of Hospital Deaths
Photo: Patient Safety Management
Working with a number of patients, health care providers and professionals, as well as the government, Joe Kiani is on a mission to improve patient safety.

To Joe Kiani, the founder of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, it’s a sad, startling statistic: More than 200,000 of the hospital deaths that occur in the U.S. every year are deaths that could have been prevented. For Kiani, even one of these deaths is too many to accept.

"This problem of preventable deaths has been with us for many years, and I decided I wanted to try to fix the problem," says Kiani. "I thought other people were going to solve the problem, but 10 years later I saw it wasn't working well enough and decided to use my friends, my training and experiences to try to fix it."

"'All hospitals have to do is implement a protocol,' says Kiani. 'It doesn't even have to be ours, just as long as they do something.'"

Absolute zero

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation has a weighty goal: to dramatically reduce that number of preventable deaths around the world, and down to zero here in the U.S. by 2020. "I think it's doable. I really do," says Kiani. "And it's doable because the hospitals that have joined have had such a positive impact already."

The Patient Safety Movement Foundation is promoting a collaborative effort among patients, health care providers, medical technology companies, government and others to address patient safety. Solutions and ideas are also presented each year at invitation-only summits. Medical technology companies are encouraged to share data and hospitals are given actionable patient safety solutions (APSS) to reduce patient mortality.

"All hospitals have to do is implement a protocol," says Kiani. "It doesn't even have to be ours, just as long as they do something."

Since the inaugural summit in 2013, more than 1,700 hospitals, 50 medical technology companies and others have made the commitments to eliminate preventable deaths. To date, the health care organizations have saved over 24,643 lives. "Imagine if everyone pushed their local hospital to make the pledge to start the journey to zero preventable deaths," urges Kiani. "You want your hospital to be one of the safest places—not one of the most dangerous." 

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