New Perspective on How COVID-19 is Affecting Patient Safety

Harrisburg, PA – June 25, 2020 - What are the long-term impacts of the stress COVID-19 is placing on clinicians, hospitals, and patients? The June 2020 issue of Patient Safety sheds light on the topic and offers positive solutions through a frank interview with thought leaders, an expert’s essay, and a look at pandemic–related events at acute care hospitals throug hospitals Pennsylvania.

Clinicians in Crisis

In the article “Dx: Crisis,” best-selling author and social worker, SaraKay Smullens, and Dr. Stanton Smullens, board chair of the Patient Safety Authority (PSA), discuss burnout and depression in the medical community: the signs, the importance of early identification, and approaches to minimize stress. Their personal experiences bring the reader into their space as they share their stories and offer ideas that so many of us can use right now.
“The goal set before healthcare workers is ‘tireless superhero’,” writes Dr. Smullens. “We’re taught to persist beyond a point of exhaustion—regardless of the cost—for days on end. Without adjusting this expectation with appropriate self-care attitudes and strategies, we reach the point of being unable to concentrate, focus, or function.”

Bring Back Suspended Safeguards for Patient Safety

William J. Wenner, professor emeritus, Penn State University College of Medicine and PSA board member, writes about two patient safety protections that normally exist in the healthcare system: family involvement and oversight by outside entities. While emergency changes were necessary during COVID-19, the defenses that were recessed during the pandemic must be restored, he writes. “It will be even more tragic if the progress made on patient safety and medical errors in the past decade also becomes a victim of the pandemic.”

©2020 Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority