12:26pm

Thu April 21, 2011
Healthcare

Patient Safety Program Targets Preventable Health Problems

Federal health officials chose Children's Hospital in Denver to talk about a new program that aims to cut down on preventable injuries and medical complications. 

The ‘Partnership for Patients’ initiative is targeting the thousands of patient deaths each year from preventable injuries or medical complications.  The Department of Health and Human Services has invested nearly $1 billion in federal funding to get it started.  But health officials say the program will ultimately cut billions in unnecessary spending. 

“We estimate savings of $35 billion across the entire healthcare system, including about $10 billion in Medicare alone,” says Health and Human Services regional director Marguerite Salazar.  “We know that those are the kind of dollars we have to look at as we’re trying to expand care to a broader population.  We’ve got to look to where there’s waste, and to where we can prevent these additional costs from happening.”

Although trimming healthcare spending is important, Salazar says the program's primary focus  is patient safety.  The initiative has two main goals – to cut down on hospital-acquired infections and complications, and to reduce preventable injuries such as adverse drug reactions.  Salazar spoke Thursday morning at Children’s Hospital in Denver, which she says has a great history of patient safety innovations, and is a great example of what the program can accomplish.