Letter From Our Executive Director
Day in and day out, physicians, nurses and many other healthcare professionals work tirelessly and with great expertise, compassion, and commitment to provide everyone who enters the hospital with the best care for that patient. That care is often determined in a rush, as patients experience a life threatening situation that requires these healthcare experts to make snap decisions and take fast steps to save a life.
Other times, patients struggle for days, weeks or months, with serious illness complicated by multiple conditions, battling a number of healthcare conditions with the hope of a cure or at least an improvement in how they feel, clinging to precious time and life. Here, healthcare experts again contemplate a multitude of options that may help the patient, each option evaluated to help the patient and his or her family to decide:
"Is the treatment going to make me feel better than I do?"
"What are the chances that this treatment or procedure will cure my disease or condition?"
"What do I need to do in order to help this medicine or treatment have the best chance for success? Is it realistic that I can and will do this, given everything else going on in my life?"
"What is the best possible outcome once I undergo this treatment, surgery or other procedure?"
And the most agonizing question facing some patients and their families: "If this medicine or treatment makes me feel worse, and if my disease cannot be cured, should I think about making myself as comfortable as possible, so that I spend remaining time with those I love feeling as decent as possible, rather than fighting a disease that I can’t win against, and feeling miserable?"
These are some of the most profoundly difficult life questions we all face. The purpose of the NorMet Patient Safety Institute is two-fold:
1. To help healthcare experts within the participating hospitals to share the most recent experiences that help patients, driven by both anecdotal situations and data driven evidence but without the delays often experienced by current national practice. Nationally renowned experts estimate that, historically, it takes as long as 12 years for a best practice in healthcare to become a part of everyday practice. In today’s economy, where every dollar spent in healthcare is evaluated for its merit, and internet searches take seconds, patients should not need to wait 12 years for their physician or healthcare provider to be able to give the best care known at any given time.
Business and government leaders have said that some of the most valuable lessons they’ve learned are "what not to do" by hearing or watching what others did that led to a negative result. The same can be said of healthcare. Again, the NorMet Patient Safety Institute offers participating hospitals an opportunity to share information rapidly about a patient situation that turned out differently and not as well as expected, given all the other factors. In today’s society where medicine is practiced with a fear of lawsuits, the Institute provides a safe, unique environment for physicians and nurses to share information with confidentiality so that a negative experience that happened to one patient doesn’t have to be experienced by countless other patients over several years before medical practices change to better help patients.
2. To help patients make the decisions about their healthcare that will make a positive difference in their health and in their lives. Our individual health status is result of genetic makeup and decisions we’ve made throughout our lives. Healthcare decisions are a result of the knowledge we possess, and partnerships between patients and the medical experts we work with to help us. The Institute will be another source of crucial information, which is the power to make good decisions.
The NorMet Patient Safety Institute is a new initiative of the Federal government, with supporting laws in place as of early 2009. Currently, we are the only such organization in New York State, and one of only 69 federally recognized patient safety organizations in 26 states across the nation. While we focus on only a few key topics to start, issues that physicians and nurses believe will lead to substantive improvements in patient care, we will also share additional key items for patients to consider when making their healthcare decisions. Stay tuned to the website for new information every month.
Wishing you good health and peace,
Angela M. Skretta