Patient Safety: Moving the Bar in Prison Health Care Standards

Marc F. Stern, Robert B. Greifinger, and Jeff Mellow (2010). “Patient Safety: Moving the Bar in Prison Health Care Standards.” American Journal of Public Health, 100(11): 2103-2110.

Improvements in community health care quality through error reduction have been slow to transfer to correctional settings. We convened a panel of correctional experts, which recommended 60 patient safety standards focusing on such issues as creating safety cultures at organizational, supervisory, and staff levels through changes to policy and training and by ensuring staff competency, reducing medication errors, encouraging the seamless transfer of information between and within practice settings, and developing mechanisms to detect errors or near misses and to shift the emphasis from blaming staff to fixing systems. To our knowledge, this is the first published set of standards focusing on patient safety in prisons, adapted from the emerging literature on quality improvement in the community.

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