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Patient safety conference to focus on errors in diagnosis

Robert Imhoff, President and CEO of The Md. Patient Safety Center (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

Robert Imhoff, President and CEO of The Md. Patient Safety Center (The Daily Record / Maximilian Franz)

The Maryland Patient Safety Conference expects to welcome more than 1,400 of the state’s doctors, nurses and other health care personnel from hospitals, primary care offices and long-term care facilities to Baltimore on Friday to discuss errors in diagnosis and the state’s opioid crisis, among other issues.

Errors in diagnosis will be the primary topic of conversation at the conference, one of the nation’s larger patient safety events.

“It’s a very important conference,” said Robert Imhoff, president and CEO of the Maryland Patient Safety Center, which organizes the event. “We’re delighted with the attendance and that we get to devote an entire day (to patient safety).”

Imhoff said errors in diagnosis has become an area of importance in the patient safety community.

“If you’re not diagnosed properly… the consequences could be fatal,” he said. “That’s a huge issue.”

But in order to grasp the significance of the issue, Imhoff said health care professionals must understand the scope of the problem before they can create and implement ideas to reduce the errors.

“We know the problem exists, we assume with a high degree of certainty that it’s significant,” Imhoff said.

The conference will welcome two keynote speakers. The closing keynote will feature Sue Sheridan and her son, Cal. A diagnostic error led to a brain injury for Cal when he was a newborn 22 years ago. His father, Pat, died as the result of a separate diagnostic error.

The morning keynote will be given by David Marx, who Imhoff called the “father of Just Culture,” a system of focusing on not necessarily assigning blame when things go wrong but finding out what went wrong so it does not happen again.

Given the Maryland’s opioid epidemic, it’s been a significant topic of discussion in the patient safety community, and Imhoff expects that to continue.

The conference will offer four different tracks of concurrent sessions, totaling 12 breakout sessions.

Hospitals also will be recognized by the Maryland Patient Safety Center for their efforts in patient safety. Northwest Hospital Center received the 2017 Minogue Award for Patient Safety Innovation and The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Adventist Health Care Shady Grove Medical Center received the Distinguished Achievement in Patient Safety Innovation award.

The Maryland Patient Safety Center was created by the General Assembly but acts as an independent 501(c)3 organization. It certifies hospitals for their patient safety programs and organizes continuing education on patient safety.

Imhoff said the center needs to maintain relevant topics to attract attendees.

“It’s incumbent upon us to put out relevant topical issues,” he said. “We have to make sure we are doing the right thing to attract participation.”

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