“Facts provide us with knowledge. Stories provide us with wisdom.” Sorrel King, mother of Josie and founder of the Josie King Foundation, shared her story with the attendees of the 6th Annual Quality and Safety Symposium. The presentation began with the gripping story of the medical error that resulted in the death of her young child, Josie. But over the course of the hour, Ms. King revealed the work and improvements in patient safety throughout the healthcare system that her family’s loss continues to inspire.
Ms. King described a number of initiatives that the Josie King Foundation has supported in partnership with institutions around the country. Patient-initiated rapid response teams to “stop the line,” patient care journals in which families can keep track of daily goals and questions they have for their care team, and “hero awards” meant to recognize those individuals who speak up when something does not look right. “Just the existence of these programs,” Ms. King explained, even if they don’t get used all the time, “can change the culture.”
Though certainly Ms. King’s story was the most dramatic of the day, the entire symposium—the sixth since Krista Johnson, MD, MME, and Michael Brownlee, PharmD, MS, first began co-chairing the event—was a day filled with stories. About 35 different speakers packed Medical Alumni Auditorium and small breakout conference rooms around the hospital and the Carver College of Medicine. All of them presented on activities they have initiated or on systems and support available within University of Iowa Health Care designed to improve the quality of care patients receive and to ensure their and their providers’ safety.
Ms. King’s keynote challenged the audience to make changes that will benefit the system and save patients’ lives. But, she cautioned, most calls to action fade in effectiveness within three weeks. “If nothing happens by week three,” she said, “nothing will happen.”