Open communication and a free flow of information represent the “magic pill” needed to improve many of the issues in health care related to safety, according to a new report released by the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute. Shining a Light: Safer Health Care Through Transparency defines transparency as “the free, uninhibited flow of information that is open to the scrutiny of others,” and calls for sweeping action within and across organizations, between clinicians and patients, and in public reporting.
Robert Wachter, MD
“We hope this report will help convince people that transparency is not only the right thing to do, but that it will lead to improved outcomes, fewer errors, more satisfied patients, and reduced costs of care,” said UC San Francisco’s Robert M. Wachter, MD, associate chair of the Department of Medicine. He and Gary Kaplan, MD, FACMPE, chief executive officer, Virginia Mason Health System, both members of the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute, served as co-chairs of this initiative.
The report addresses four distinct yet overlapping domains where the open exchange of information is necessary to improve safety:
- Between clinicians and patients to ensure patients are well informed at all stages of their care
- Among clinicians to ensure the practices of high performers are shared with their peers
- Between organizations to allow greater collaboration on safety protocols and events
- With the public through meaningful measures and data that is understandable and useful to health care consumers
The authors provide specific recommendations relevant to each domain and to the areas of measurement and leadership. In all, more than three dozen recommendations are outlined in the report addressing issues such as disclosure of conflicts of interest, shared decision making with patients, and development of core competencies for communicating about medical errors and quality measures to patients, families, other medical professionals, and the public.
For more information about the report, please visit the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute's website.