Why do we advocate?
I have asked myself this question many, many times.
As patients and consumers, we all know that advocating for patient safety is not easy. Most of us are never paid for our volunteer work. Yet, we spend countless hours educating ourselves and the public on patient safety issues; we do this regardless of the day of the week, despite the fact that we come from all walks of life and have jobs and personal obligations in our lives; we go to Congress, state legislatures, and other government agencies to testify on behalf of patients; and we serve on various health care committees to bring patients’ perspectives to the policy-makers’ table.
We sometimes get recognition and compliments for our volunteer efforts; but more often than not, we are viewed as “complainers” who are unable to accept the harm or our love one’s deaths due to preventable medical errors. It is hard work, and, sometimes, it is frustrating and exhausting.
Then, why do so many of us still keep advocating for patient safety?
One of our patient safety colleagues and a retired NASA research scientist, Dr. John James published an article, “A new, evidence-based estimate of patient harms associated with hospital care” (Journal of Patient Safety, 2013). In his analysis, John shows that the number of patient deaths due to preventable harm is more than 400,000 per year. This is more than 1000 people dying a day, equivalent to two jumbo jets crashing and killing everyone onboard. It is hard to accept even one jumbo jet crashing. Why do we accept more than 400,000 patients dying every year due to medical errors? So, we rise from our personal grief and tragedies and embrace the impossible. Despite of the difficulties, we nevertheless persist.
We join our hands and come together under the Patient Safety Action Network (PSAN) with a common goal to make a difference, individually and collectively, so that what happened to us and our loved ones will not happen to other.
This is our movement to save more lives.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” By Margaret Mead