AARC Voice Heard at Patient Safety Movement Summit

 Published: January 23, 2019

By: Heather Willden


photo of panelists at patient safety movement summit
Tom Kallstrom, second from the left, joins his fellow panelists for a discussion of the leading causes of in-hospital preventable deaths.

For the seventh year in a row, the AARC played an integral role in the Annual World Patient Safety, Science & Technology Summit convened by the Patient Safety Movement.

This year the Summit was co-convened by the European Society of Anaesthesiology, reflecting the increasingly global nature of this meeting.

The AARC was a media sponsor for the event, and AARC Executive Director Thomas Kallstrom, MBA, RRT, FAARC, served on one of four panels assembled during the meeting. His ability to bring the RT perspective to bear on the discussion speaks volumes about the growing influence respiratory therapists are having in the area of patient safety.

“There were RTs in attendance at the meeting, and we did a lot of networking with each other and with other people and organizations,” he said.

Attending along with Kallstrom were AARC President Karen Schell, DHSc, RRT-NPS, RRT-SDS, RPFT, RPSGT, AE-C, CTTS, AARC Chief Business Officer Timothy Myers, MBA, RRT, RRT-NPS, FAARC, Thomas Knowles, MHA, RRT, RPSGT, from University Hospitals in Cleveland, OH and Kevin M. McQueen, MHA, RRT, RRT-ACCS, CPPS, CM, from UC Health Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, CO.

Preventing in-hospital deaths

The first day of the meeting, which took place Jan. 18-19 in Huntington Beach, CA, saw presentations on a range of topics, from the state of the movement to patient safety curriculum for schools.

Day two was devoted to the panel discussions. Along with patient advocate Carole Hemmelgarn; Dr. Helen Macfie, chief transformation officer at MemorialCare Health System; and Clifford Hughes, immediate past president and chairman of the Board Accreditation Council and International Society for Quality in Health Care, Kallstrom tackled the topic, Leading Causes of Preventable In-hospital Deaths.

The panel was charged with looking not at creating an environment where as few things as possible go wrong, but at creating an environment where as many things as possible go right.

Kallstrom says respiratory therapists came up a number of times in the session.

“The respiratory therapist was noted several times as a key player,” he said. “The take-home message was that it does not matter who or what your role is, in the hospital you are essential. We all are part of the answer.”

He was able to share some of the work the AARC has done in this arena with his fellow panel members as well, including the Patient Safety Checklists the Association has developed and Patient Safety Community it has established on AARConnect.

The session was moderated by patient safety champion Dr. Tami Minnier.

Other panels looked at Health Care Technology, Pushing Transparency and Aligned Incentives through Policymakers, and Delirium.

President Clinton applauds successes

AARC Executive Director Thomas Kallstrom (left) with former President Bill Clinton

The Summit ended with a keynote address by former President Bill Clinton, who applauded the many successes seen since the Patient Safety Movement got its start, including the 273,077 lives that have been saved through greater collaboration among health care facilities and health care technology companies across the nation and around the world.

“I’m grateful that the movement just in the last year alone saved more than 90,000 lives,” said President Clinton, who was speaking before the meeting for the seventh year in a row. “I’m grateful for the 4,700 hospitals at home and around the world that are part of this effort. I’m grateful that 89 technology companies have committed to share data to develop algorithms and predict dangerous trends. And I hope there will be more.”

He noted that the movement now has 35 regional chairs leading local networks in 50 countries and he urged everyone involved to keep the momentum going.

“My most important message is to please stay active in this, please get more people active in it, and don’t give up,” President Clinton said.

Following his address, President Clinton joined Patient Safety Movement founder and chairman Joe Kiani for a one-on-one discussion covering everything from to the dangers of apathy and global warming to the opioid epidemic.

Making a commitment

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The Summit builds on the day-to-day work of the movement, which asks hospitals to make a commitment to achieving zero preventable deaths. Hospitals that agree to participate create an account on patientsafetymovement.org and then select from a list of options to commit to and fill out their commitment form.

To remain in the movement, hospitals must provide a report at the end of their commitment period as well as annual commitment updates.

There is no cost involved in participating in the program.

What kinds of deaths is the movement working to prevent? They run the gamut, but a couple of videos shared on the organization’s website tell the story.

Dave Bunoski lost his life after suffering a cardiac arrest in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. An intubation tube was inadvertently placed into his esophagus instead of his lungs, resulting in a 15-minute loss of oxygen. He was in a coma, but it wasn’t until four weeks later that his family found out about the significant loss of oxygen and could make the decisions they then knew needed to be made.

Chris Salazar – whose story is well known to RTs who attended the Closing Ceremony at AARC Congress 2018 – also passed away due to complications from a misplaced airway, which in his case could have easily been detected had the ICU where he was being cared for following an automobile accident simply applied capnography at the bedside. His dad, Ed Salazar, RRT, summed it up for patients everywhere: “This should not have happened. A 27-year-old young man with a normal, healthy heart and lungs should not die of cardiopulmonary arrest in a trauma center intensive care unit.”

On the road to zero

Kallstrom says he was pleased to join health care leaders from across the country and around the world at the Patient Safety Movement Summit, and like them, he is looking forward to continued progress on its number one goal: zero preventable deaths.

Will that ever really happen? The AARC executive director sums it up like this:

“There were over 200 like-minded professionals at this meeting,” Kallstrom said. “While the goal is zero preventable deaths in the hospital, it was acknowledged that this is a stretch goal. But this does not deter the mission of eliminating preventable deaths.”

Join the Patient Safety Community on AARConnect and get involved in the discussion.

Email newsroom@aarc.org with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

Heather Willden

Heather Willden is the Director of Governance and Strategic Initiatives for the AARC where she works with state affiliates as the HOD liaison. She also manages DEI efforts and strategic initiatives. Connect with her about these topics by email, AARConnect or LinkedIn. When she's not working, you can find her podcasting with her husband, exploring new hiking trails, photographing, and spending time with her family.

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