My Personal Introduction to the World of Patient Safety

Written by: Michael Hofmann, Director, International Center for Bloodless Medicine & Surgery

My introduction to patient safety came as a result of being asked to serve as a volunteer. Beginning in 1990 my role was to both assist those who were seeking non-blood management services and to find hospitals and doctors who would be willing to care for them. For some years, there was a resistance on the part of many to treat Jehovah’s Witnesses who declined blood products, this was clearly an unsafe situation for these patients.

Beginning in the early 1990’s I saw a tremendous effort that improved the care of these patients considerably, when Hospital Liaison Committees for Jehovah’s Witnesses were formed all over the world. These Committees were designed to support patients and create a dialogue with doctors. During the same time efforts were successfully made in courts and legislatures that emphasized patient rights and giving voice to a patient’s wishes. Also, medical evidence continued to show the advisability of avoiding transfusions wherever possible.

For the last ten years I have had the privilege to work at MedStar Health and MedStar Institute for Quality and Safety as a director of bloodless programs. Today Witness patients are welcomed and treated respectfully and safely in these programs. It is a pleasure to a part of MedStar Health where diligent efforts for patient and associate safety is an integral part of the culture.