March 13-19, 2016, is Patient Safety Awareness Week, a campaign sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a world where patients and those who care for them are free from harm.

The campaign is designed to increase awareness, spark dialogue, and promote action to improve the safety of the health care system for patients and the workforce.

NPSF works to bring together and engage health care professionals and patients to help spread the message, "Every day is patient safety day."

As health care providers, there are a number of ways that you can take an active role in promoting the campaign. Use these ten ideas, to get started:

1. Register on the campaign site. Stay connected and informed about Patient Safety Awareness Week activities by registering on the site and subscribing to the mailing list.

2. Take the patient safety pledge. The pledge reads as follows:

"I pledge to download and read the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Free from Harm Report and to hold at least one discussion group with my team about at least one of the report’s recommendations. Further, I will strive to implement practices that work to increase the safety and care of my patients."

3. Wear a patient gown. NPSF challenges health care leaders and administrators to step into the role of the patient by wearing a patient gown to mark Patient Safety Awareness Week.

"We are all patients, after all," said Tejal K. Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, president and chief executive officer of NPSF. "We want leaders to demonstrate a commitment to listen to the patient’s voice and strive for patient safety and the reduction of harm."

4. Spread the message on social media. Help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. NPSF provides some sample posts and tweets you can use. On Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #unitedforpatientsafety and reference @theNPSF.

5. Utilize campaign materials, to reach patients. To promote the campaign, NPSF created branded materials for you to use to build awareness with patients and stakeholders about important issues in patient safety. Various downloadable materials are available, as well as items that you can order to help mark Patient Safety Awareness Week.

6. Register for the free webinar. NPSF is hosting a free webinar on March 17th at 1 p.m. eastern on the topic, Patient Safety is a Public Health Issue.

7. Join the discussion forum. One of the most important ways to engage in the Patient Safety Awareness week campaign is to have discussions with other health care professionals about issues concerning patient safety.

Through NPSF’s discussion forum, you can join the conversation, share your experiences and expertise, and learn about tips and resources from others. The discussion forum is for health care professionals and stakeholders only.

8. Download the "Free from Harm" report. Download NPSF's new report, "Free from Harm: Accelerating Patient Safety Improvement Fifteen Years after To Err Is Human."

Citing the report, Gandhi said, "We have seen some improvement in patient safety, but 1 in 10 patients still experiences a hospital-acquired complication, and many more harms occur in outpatient settings, where most care is provided, so there is still much work to be done."

The report makes eight recommendations for achieving total systems safety and a culture of safety in health care. They are:

  • Ensure that leaders establish and sustain a safety culture;
  • Create centralized and coordinated oversight of patient safety;
  • Create a common set of safety metrics that reflect meaningful outcomes;
  • Increase funding for research in patient safety and implementation science;
  • Address safety across the entire care continuum;
  • Support the health care workforce;
  • Partner with patients and families for the safest care;
  • Ensure that technology is safe and optimized to improve patient safety.

Health care leaders and professionals participating in the campaign are asked to read the report, hold a discussion in their organization about the recommendations, and work to increase the safety of the care they provide by implementing the tactics recommended in the report.

9. Acquire downloadable slides. NPSF has made slides available to use as a foundation for discussions in your own organization about the report's eight recommendations. Use them as a PowerPoint presentation or handout.

10. Download "Safety Is Personal: Partnering with Patients and Families for the Safest Care." (PDF) This report, from the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute, talks about the need for greater patient and family engagement.

We hope you use these ten ways to show your support for and instill in your colleagues, stakeholders, and patients the importance of patient safety, reinforcing the message that "Every day is patient safety day."

Visit the NPSF website to learn more about Patient Safety Awareness Week.