Creating a Patient Safety Culture

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Lisa Fratt, Editor, Health Imaging

Several of this week’s top stories describe glaring patient safety offenses. Patient safety can be, unfortunately, a second or third tier priority, and may take a back seat to budgets. Take, for example, a report issued this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found some hospitals had failed to implement effective safety precautions to secure cesium-137, a radioactive material that can be used to construct dirty bombs. What’s more, despite the availability of federal funding to help pay for security upgrades at hospitals with high-risk radioactive materials, some of these facilities have spurned the fed’s financial assistance. At least one cited cost concerns as the reason. However, securing these materials represents a pressing public safety need.

Hepatitis C also figured prominently in this’s week headlines. An attorney has filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of the patients infected with hepatitis C by traveling radiology technologist David Kwiatkowski, and named University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and two staffing firms in the suit. Investigations have suggested that some facilities may have ignored signs of Kwiatkowski’s drug use, allowing the traveling tech to continue to seek employment at hospitals across the country.

Meanwhile, in Florida, David Beumel, a radiology technologist formerly employed at Mayo Clinic, was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for spreading hepatitis C via deliberately contaminated syringes.  

In other news this week, functional MRI (fMRI) once again demonstrated its potential. In one study, researchers leveraged the modality to examine soldiers with combat-related stress. They reported that most areas of the brain normalize over time; however, their findings also suggested that some areas of the brain may not recover.

In another study, researchers demonstrated that fMRI might play a role in predicting which patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD) might respond to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It’s an important advance. Although both pharmacotherapy and CBT may be employed as treatments for SAD, neither is universally effective.

Finally, Choline C 11 Injection, a PET imaging agent used to help detect recurrent prostate cancer, gained FDA approval. It’s a promising advance for men with prostate cancer, and also hints at the potential of other, more specific molecular imaging tracers in the development pipeline.

Finally, Sept. 14 is the final day to complete our brief PACS wish list survey. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us and inform an upcoming article in Health Imaging.

How is your facility supporting a patient safety culture? Let us know.


Lisa Fratt, editor