Across disciplines, all healthcare providers take a practice oath that supports the principle of nonmaleficence (“first, do no harm”)—and so does the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), several agency leaders wrote in a March 2023 blog post. The authors called for increased awareness of patient safety and highlighted ways CMS is taking action.
“It’s time for all of us to focus our attention on patient safety and push for continued and significant improvements,” the authors wrote. “CMS is using all the levers at our disposal, including expanded and improved measures of safety performance, increased transparency, and strong payment incentives to promote improved safety outcomes.”
The authors added, “We ensure healthcare providers focus on patient safety through our regulatory and oversight authorities, which require providers to adhere to robust health and safety standards. For example, we survey hospitals to ensure that, among other things, the facility and the doctors, nurses, and other staff have adequate qualifications, training, and experience to keep patients safe. And we hold facilities accountable when they fail to meet those standards.”
They outlined CMS’s next steps to promote and ensure patient safety:
- Deploy a range of quality measures that encourage transparent public reporting about the quality of care in facilities and increase accountability, support decisions about where to obtain care, and encourage care improvement.
- Oversee a network of quality improvement organizations that provide direct assistance to healthcare providers and best practices to improve safety.
- Launch initiatives that promote patient safety across CMS programs, incentivize healthcare providers to make meaningful improvements, and penalize those that do not meet standards.
- Update requirements for healthcare providers who participate in Medicare and Medicaid to address inequities in quality of and access to care.
Yet to truly change the patient safety landscape, CMS’s plan must spur others into action, the authors said—including nurses in clinical practice. “The re-engineering of safe systems of care, across all settings, requires a renewed and ongoing commitment by providers, payers, and patient advocates together. Best practices include ensuring a culture of safety, improving teamwork and communications, and carefully analyzing errors to identify root causes. These best practices can be standardized across health care to build a more resilient and durable system of safety that extends from the C-suite and the boardroom to every healthcare worker for the benefit of patients everywhere.”