Today’s guest blog of Patient Safety Awareness Week is by Winnie Tobin, Communications Director, Medically Induced Trauma Support Services (MITSS)
It’s Patient Safety Awareness Week, a time for educating and increasing awareness about efforts to improve patient safety worldwide. We applaud the wonderful work being done by organizations, healthcare systems, and patients/families in designing safer systems and preventing medical errors and patient harm. Yet, we have a long way to go. We know that even in the safest of systems, things can, and often do, go wrong. Medical errors and adverse events can take a devastating emotional toll on patients, family members, and the clinicians involved in their care.
MITSS (Medically Induced Trauma Support Services) is a Massachusetts based non-profit organization whose mission is Supporting Healing and Restoring Hoping to patients, families, and clinicians whose lives have been impacted by adverse events. Following a bad outcome, patients can feel isolated and alone, anxious, depressed, and vulnerable. Family members can feel powerless and guilty, regretting that they hadn’t “done more” for a loved one. Clinicians on the “sharp end” can experience feelings of guilt, shame, and incompetence. It is important for everyone involved to get the support that they need.
MITSS offers direct support to patients and families by providing telephone support; short term one on one counseling; and, a 10 week therapeutic educational support group. We also assist patients in navigating through the complexities of the healthcare system by providing them with resources from our extensive network. We often refer callers to a practical, helpful website developed by our colleagues at the Consumer Quality Council at Health Care for All, The Assertive Patient – A Guide to Speaking Up When You are Dissatisfied with a Health Care Experience (www.assertivepatient.org).
On the clinician side, MITSS provides direct support in addition to tools and resources which can be found at www.mitsstools.org. Our Clinician Support Tool Kit, widely accessed by individuals and organizations around the globe, is designed to help hospitals and healthcare systems build the infrastructures to better support their frontline clinicians when things go wrong.
The National Patient Safety Foundation has designated year’s theme “7/365,” which reminds us ALL that the pursuit of patient safety is a 24 hour a day job. As we commemorate this important week, let’s not forget the human toll from adverse events by remembering those who have suffered medical harm every day of the year.
-Winnie Tobin, Communications Director, MITSS