Plan reflects consensus on need for greater collaboration and greater focus on foundational change to reduce medical errors

CHICAGO (September 14, 2020) – The National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) today joins with the other members of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)-convened National Steering Committee for Patient Safety (NSC) to announce the release of a National Action Plan intended to provide health systems with renewed momentum and clearer direction for eliminating preventable medical harm. Safer Together: A National Action Plan to Advance Patient Safety draws from evidence-based practices, widely known and effective interventions, exemplar case examples, and newer innovations. The plan is the work of 27 influential federal agencies, safety organizations and experts, and patient and family advocates, first brought together in 2018 by IHI, a global leader in health and health care improvement worldwide.

The knowledge and recommendations in the National Action Plan center on four foundational areas deliberately chosen because of their widespread impact on safety across the continuum of care:

  1. Culture, Leadership, and Governance: The imperative for leaders, governance bodies, and policymakers to demonstrate and foster deeply held professional commitments to safety as a core value and promote the development of cultures of safety.
  2. Patient and Family Engagement: The spread of authentic patient and family engagement; the practice of co-designing and co-producing care with patients, families, and care partners to ensure their meaningful partnership in all aspects of care design, delivery, and operations.
  3. Workforce Safety: The commitment to the safety and fortification of the health care workforce as a necessary precondition to advancing patient safety; the need to work towards a unified, total system perspective and approach to eliminate harm to both patients and the workforce.
  4. Learning System: The establishment of networked and continuous learning; forging learning systems within and across health care organizations at the local, regional, and national levels to encourage widespread sharing, learning, and improvement.

NAHQ is proud to be among the leading organizations contributing to the NSC’s work. “The National Action Plan calls coordination and collaboration at all levels in the effort to improve patient and workforce safety,” said Stephanie Mercado, CAE CPHQ, NAHQ’s CEO and executive director. “NAHQ also believes providing optimal healthcare and safety, requires a coordinated, competent workforce aligned against the Healthcare Quality Competency Framework. NAHQ’s industry-standard competencies provide a common language, set expectations for quality work and offers a tangible way to assess performance.”

To help health care organizations immediately act on the recommendations and achieve progress across the four foundational areas, the plan provides implementation tactics, case examples, tools, and resources—including two supplementary materials:

  • Self-Assessment Tool assists leaders and organizations in deciding where to start on their respective work and is designed to allow organizations to track progress over time.
  • Implementation Resource Guide details tactics and supporting resources for implementing and measuring the National Action Plan recommendations.

“The way in which diverse groups and patient advocates who are interested in patient safety came together to forge the National Action Plan is unprecedented, and it underscores the necessity to work together to create the safest health care possible,” said NSC Co-Chair Jeffrey Brady, MD MPH, who directs the Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Over the past 20 years, the field has amassed a tremendous body of knowledge to improve health care safety. What’s been missing is the use of this knowledge for more coordinated action. That’s what we want to rectify.”

“With so many competing priorities and requirements that health systems face, it has become difficult to focus on key areas that are foundational for improving across the board,” stated Tejal K. Gandhi, MD MPH CPPS, NSC Co-Chair, IHI Senior Fellow, and Chief Safety and Transformation Officer at Press Ganey. “The Action Plan helps direct attention to these interdependent areas, which have substantial, wide-ranging influence on many aspects of patient safety. Accelerating improvement in each of these areas will mutually support improvement in others and create the fertile soil that allows broader safety initiatives to take root and be cultivated.”

About NAHQ
NAHQ is the leader in healthcare quality workforce competencies and creator of the twice-validated, industry-standard Healthcare Quality Competency Framework. NAHQ provides a strategic advantage to healthcare professionals and the organizations they serve by developing and evolving workforce competencies in healthcare quality that result in better patient and financial outcomes to support the goals of healthcare value.

NAHQ offers the only accredited certification in healthcare quality, the CPHQ®, now held by more than 12,000 individuals world-wide, extensive educational programming, networking opportunities and career resources to more than 8,000 members. Learn more about NAHQ at

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