Patient Safety Awareness Week (PSAW), the second week of March, began as an opportunity to celebrate patient safety. The National Patient Safety Foundation recognized PSAW, and hospitals around the country also began to “celebrate” patient safety, with the National Patient Safety Foundation taking the lead.  

According to The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Patient Safety Awareness Week was celebrated around the world in 2020  Each year for almost 20 years, during the second week of March, hospitals have held events such as educational programs, fairs and contests and they may also distribute literature to staff and patients — all related to patient safety. The week was meant to introduce patients to patient safety. 

Most people learn about patient safety after they or a family member have been injured or killed. But patient safety awareness week is an opportunity for people to learn about patient safety before becoming patients, and before a tragic event. At Pulse, we have been introducing the public to patient safety during PSAW since 2002, when we held our first marathon run with more than a dozen runners.The run started with a kickoff at a Long Island hospital, where the director spoke about the importance of patient safety, and literature was distributed to those who came to watch the runners start their 26.2 mile run to the next county. There they were greeted at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center by staff, community members and dignitaries.  Dr. Mark Graber, Chief of Medicine at the VA and his staff helped organize the welcome of the runners as well as make the week an important occasion. 

In 2006, we again held a run that included two Long Island hospitals and ended on the south shore of Long Island where we held a health fair at the South Nassau Unitarian Universalist Congregation, where Pulse was founded and our early support group meetings were held. Both of these events as well as many others throughout the years have been held to raise awareness that people must know about patient safety to be full partners in their care.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) a branch of the US Department of Health and Human Services says that, “Lack of active partnership between patients and providers may lead to less-than-ideal health outcomes, unmet medical needs, and delayed medical care.”  

But how can patients truly be partners with the medical community when there is no education for the public on how errors happen? People must prepare to become patients, especially now that there is a pandemic and the medical community is heavily burdened. It is the public’s responsibility – the banker, the gas station attendant, the accountant, the engineer, the plumber, the grocery clerk, the mother of young children, and college students all must take their responsibility as patients seriously.

To make this easier to understand, decades later we will be celebrating patient safety and Patient Safety Awareness Week with TakeCHARGE: 5 Steps to Safer Health Care. We can never stop including the public in what safe care means, and what the public’s role is in keeping themselves and their family members safe.This March we kick off TakeCHARGE: 5 Steps to Safer Health Care during Patient Safety Awareness Week – 

Pulse Center for Patient Safety Education Advocacy