Addressing Issues in Patient Safety

Author: Jennifer Hinkel MSc
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Patient safety has long been recognized as an integral component of quality medical care. In the past decade, the spotlight on safety has only become brighter, with the publication of reports such as the Institute of Medicine's To Err is Human in 2000 and the growing attention to patient safety and medical error by the media. The stakes are especially high in oncology, and avoiding error is imperative in delivering chemotherapy. Because safety is central to the delivery of high-quality oncology care, representatives from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) member institutions convened in October of 2006 for the 2nd Annual NCCN Patient Safety Summit to share best practices and discuss ongoing challenges in the delivery of safe cancer care. The Summit was hosted by NCCN member Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, cancer center directors, and quality and safety administrators participated in the Summit, which focused on safe chemotherapy delivery and how NCCN member institutions are tackling safety issues as they relate to new developments in cancer treatment. Discussions ranged from the implementation of computerized ordering systems to the growing availability and use of oral chemotherapeutic agents. Several themes and lessons emerged from the wide-ranging discussions. First, safety is not the responsibility of one person or specialty but is a multidisciplinary concern. Programs that impact safety must be implemented with buy-in from individuals across the care spectrum. Second, communication is imperative to delivering safe care, whether the communication is between various electronic ordering and...

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Jennifer Hinkel, MSc, is a Project Analyst at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, where she works primarily with the Best Practices Committee. She holds a BS in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and an MSc in International Health Policy from the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom. While in London, Ms. Hinkel researched and wrote speeches on health care policy issues at the House of Lords. She is also an adjunct instructor of Health Policy and Administration at Penn State Abington, part of The Pennsylvania State University.

  • 1.

    Second Annual NCCN Patient Safety Summit, Transcript. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, October 12, 2006.

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    Weingart SN, Flug J, Brouillard D. Oral chemotherapy safety practices at US cancer centers: questionnaire survey. BMJ 2007. Available at http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/short/bmj.39069.489757.55v. Accessed March 13, 2007.

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