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David Meyer: Retired Anesthesiologist Now a Patient Safety Advocate

February 1, 2021

Improving patient safety requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, including patients, healthcare providers, medical technology companies, government, employers, and private payers. That’s what the Patient Safety Movement Foundation (PSMF) says, and they want to work with all stakeholders to address the problems and solutions of patient safety.

What is PSMF’s Focus?

The PSMF is a global non-profit whose mission is to achieve zero preventable patient deaths by 2030.

David B. Mayer, MD, the organization’s CEO explained that the Patient Safety Movement Foundation’s initial model focused on securing healthcare organization commitments to target the leading causes of preventable harm and death occurring in healthcare facilities. In late 2020, the organization announced that it will concentrate on three critical components:

  • A person-centered culture of safety;
  • A holistic and continuous improvement framework; and
  • An effective model for sustainment.

“Under our previous commitment model, our hospital and health system partners reported that they saved 366,353 lives between 2012-2020 – showing that committing to implementing processes to prevent medical harm and deaths does save lives,” commented David B. Mayer, MD, CEO of PSMF.

“But to reach our ultimate goal of zero, we realized it was time for a different approach with an emphasis on creating a foundation for safety. This is where we see gaps in implementation globally and we have to help healthcare organizations focus on the basics.”

How Many Deaths Can Be Prevented?

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. This kills more Americans than car accidents, AIDS, and diabetes combined.

Preventable medical errors lead to more than 200,000 deaths in hospitals every year in the United States, leading to $1.44 trillion in excess healthcare costs. To break this down, an adverse drug event is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. This error costs $136 billion and 100,000 lives. Similarly, blood clots (venous thromboembolism) is the most common preventable cause of hospital death. This costs the country $10 billion and 100,000 lives.

Healthcare-associated infections cost us $30 billion and 75,000 lives. About one in every 25 patients acquire at least one infection during their hospital stay. The most common healthcare-associated infections that lead to death are:

  • Clostridium Difficile. This is bacterium that can cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon, and each year roughly a half million people get sick from C. difficile in the United States.
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. MRSA is a cause of staph infection that’s hard to treat because of its resistance to some antibiotics. MRSA is one of the leading etiologies of nosocomial pneumonia.
  • Central Line-Associated Bloodstream Infections. This is a serious infection that happens when germs (usually bacteria or viruses) enter the bloodstream through the central line. CLABSIs cause thousands of deaths each year and billions of dollars in added costs to the U.S. healthcare system.
  • Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection. Germs can enter the urinary tract when the catheter is being put in or while the catheter remains in the bladder.
  • Surgical Site Infection. This is an infection that happens after surgery in the part of the body where the surgery took place. Some surgical site infections are serious and can involve tissues under the skin, organs, or implanted material.

Plus, communication breakdowns cause errors. These mistakes account for nearly 43% of surgical incidents, and ⅔ of these incidents were due to patient hand-off-related errors.


Again, it’s worth repeating that medical errors are the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. There are one million deaths each year due to post-surgical complications, at least half of these are preventable.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury or death that you believe was caused by a medical error, you may bring a lawsuit for damages.

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For a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We can discuss your situation and look into your case if you believe you’ve been injured as the result of a medical error.

Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital to accommodate you.

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