Call to action on transparency in health care issued


The National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute has called for sweeping action within and across organizations, between clinicians and patients, and in public reporting.

According to the report, ‘Shining a Light: Safer Health Care Through Transparency’, open communication and a free flow of information represent the ‘magic pill’ needed to improve many of the issues in health care related to safety.

The report addresses four distinct yet overlapping domains where the open exchange of information is necessary to improve safety: between clinicians and patients to ensure patients are well informed at all stages of their care; among clinicians to ensure the practices of high performers are shared with their peers; between organizations to allow greater collaboration on safety protocols and events; and with the public through meaningful measures and data that is understandable and useful to health care consumers.

The authors provide specific recommendations relevant to each domain and to the areas of measurement and leadership.

In all, more than three dozen recommendations are outlined in the report addressing issues such as disclosure of conflicts of interest, shared decision making with patients, and development of core competencies for communicating about medical errors and quality measures to patients, families, other medical professionals, and the public.

“We hope this report will help convince people that transparency is not only the right thing to do, but that it will lead to improved outcomes, fewer errors, more satisfied patients, and reduced costs of care,” said Robert Wachter, MD, associate chair, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco.

He and Gary Kaplan, MD, FACMPE, chief executive officer, Virginia Mason Health System, both members of the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute, served as co-chairs of this initiative.

“Transparency has been largely overlooked as a patient safety tool, in part because it requires a foundation of a safety culture and strong organizational leadership,” said Kaplan. “The barriers are not necessarily easy to overcome, but we will never truly achieve safe patient care without improvements in transparency in each of the domains we cite.”

“We are grateful to our roundtable participants for the time and expertise they contributed to this report,” said Tejal Gandhi, MD, MPH, CPPS, president and chief executive officer of NPSF and president of the Lucian Leape Institute. “This is a complex issue, and it is not going to happen overnight, but we believe advances in transparency will significantly improve patient safety.”

The National Patient Safety Foundation, Lucian Leape Institute, US, Robert Wachter, Risk Management, Gary Kaplan, Tejal Gandhi