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VHA Foundation Launches National CEO Patient SafetyNetwork, Starting From the Top to Make Patients Safer

New Survey Finds that Hospital CEOs Recognize Patients' Safety Concerns, But Lack Confidence About Best Ways to Create Safer Environment

PHILADELPHIA, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As patient safety incidents in America's hospitals continue to gain prominence, a new survey shows that few hospital CEOs feel strongly confident about practices in place to prevent or manage these incidents. In response, the VHA Foundation today formally launched the "Health Care SafetyNetwork," a national program to open dialogue among hospital CEOs in an area where most have little formal training. The two-year initiative offers CEOs a forum where they can learn from peers and patient safety experts about ways to create a culture that emphasizes safety above all else.

"Given what we know about the growing number of patient safety incidents, it is not a matter of if medical errors will happen in a given hospital, but when and where," said Ken Smithson, M.D., Vice President of Clinical Improvement Services at VHA Inc. "Yet, hospital leaders are not as confident as they should be when it comes to being prepared to manage a patient safety event - or prevent one from happening in the first place."

New research released today by the VHA Foundation demonstrates the need for a patient safety resource specifically designed for CEOs. The national survey of hospital CEOs revealed that while more than two-thirds (68 percent) of hospital leaders have faced a significant patient safety event in the last three years, only small percentages reported feeling strongly confident about the practices put in place to prevent incidents and in their skills needed to handle one.

-- 15 percent strongly agreed that safety improvements are effectively

implemented and monitored.

-- 20 percent strongly agree that they are confident when speaking with a

patient's family regarding a patient safety related incident.

-- 18 percent strongly agree that they can confidently speak with the media

about a patient safety event.

-- 70 percent agree that consumer concerns about safety in hospitals are


Health Care SafetyNetwork Design

To date, very few patient safety education programs have been focused on educating the CEO, and none are specifically designed to deal with their intense time demands and unique learning styles. The survey revealed that CEOs feel that direct interaction with peers is the most useful source for new patient safety knowledge and skills. Based on these findings, the Health Care SafetyNetwork is designed to offer CEOs unprecedented access to peers and national safety experts through face-to-face, facilitated and virtual networking opportunities.

The program will also offer CEOs across the industry with an online database of leading practices and relevant content on safety issues. This will include case studies that will focus on the real life experiences of their peers in dealing with patient safety issues such as sentinel events, managing challenging physicians and building a culture of safety.

"The professional development path for senior health care leaders generally takes decades, but when it comes to improving patient safety, hospitals can't wait that long, and neither can patients," said Linda DeWolf, President of the Foundation. "The VHA Foundation is leveraging its long history of improving patient care at the national level by offering this program to rapidly transform hospital leaders into confident safety leaders."

To learn more about the Health Care SafetyNetwork visit

Survey Methodology

This survey was fielded online from January to March 2008 by Market Strategies International. The sample size for the survey was 301 hospital CEOs across the country. The margin of error is +/- 5 percent at 95 percent confidence levels.

About the VHA Foundation

The VHA Foundation, located in Irving, Texas, is a 501(c)(3) private foundation created by VHA Inc. to encourage leadership and innovation in addressing health and health care issues. The Foundation seeks the input and participation of both member and non-member health care organizations in its efforts to improve health and healthcare. The VHA Foundation funds programs that focus on two important health themes: patient safety and disaster relief. For more information on the VHA Foundation, visit


Danielle DeForge


Lynn Gentry


SOURCE VHA Foundation
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