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The New Patient Safety Officer: A Lifeline for Patients, A Life Jacket for CEOs

Denham, Charles R. MD

doi: 10.1097/PTS.0b013e318036bae9
Solutions for Leaders

Virtually every health care organization in the United States faces the daunting task of transformation. The high seas of transparency and hazards of evolving systems failures lurking under the waterline pose serious risk to survival of hospitals and the careers of their leaders. New performance measures, standards, and practices will drive entirely new behaviors by hospitals, requiring important cultural and operational changes, or they will have an impact on payment and reputation through the actions of purchasing, quality, and certifying organizations. The personal success of CEOs and trustees, and the sustainability of health care organizations, will become tightly coupled to the success of safety leaders and patient safety officers. As such, it is vital that a careful and systematic approach be undertaken to both the design of this new role and the selection of such leaders. Their knowledge, skills, talents, and, most importantly, their values must be measured against a new and evolving set of safety challenges facing health care institutions. They will be a lifeline to patients and a life jacket for CEOs.

From the Publications Dept., Texas Medical Institute of Technology, Austin, Texas.

Supported by Texas Medical Institute of Technology.

Correspondence: Charles R. Denham, MD, Publications Dept., Texas Medical Institute of Technology, 3011 N Inter-regional Highway-35, Austin, TX 78722 (e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.