PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 6, 2013

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Christie Administration Recognizes Patient Safety Awareness Week

Commissioner O' Dowd Highlights Department's Effort to Improve Quality of Care

In recognition of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd is encouraging state healthcare providers to work together to create a culture of patient safety that will improve the quality of patient care.

This year's theme, 2013 Patient Safety 7/365: 7 days of recognition, 365 days of commitment to safe care, reminds healthcare professionals that providing safe patient care requires constant dedication and effort. Sponsored by the National Patient Safety Foundation, the focus of Patient Safety Week is medication safety and health care culture and safety. 

"Improving patient safety and ensuring high quality health care are top priorities of the Department," said Commissioner O'Dowd, "Through several initiatives, the Department works with healthcare providers to improve the quality of care delivered in our state and reduce medical errors." 

Under the Patient Safety Act of 2004, the Department created the Patient Safety Reporting System in 2005 to enhance patient safety and promote a healthcare delivery system that minimizes harm to patients. Rather than seeking to place blame, the Patient Safety Reporting System promotes reporting of adverse patient events, analysis of their causes and creation of solutions that will improve health care quality and save lives. 

Acute care hospitals and rehabilitation, psychiatric and special hospitals, as well as ambulatory surgery centers are required to report medical errors under the Patient Safety Reporting System. 

Medication errors are one of several types of adverse events that are monitored by the Department. Medication errors represent less than 3 percent of all serious preventable adverse events reported-pressure ulcers and falls are the most frequently reported events. The number of reported medication errors per year has been stable despite the increased number of facilities reporting to the system. The number of deaths associated with medication errors has dropped in 2012 compared to previous years. 

The Department also produces the Hospital Performance Report which includes information on how well hospitals treat heart attack, pneumonia and heart failure patients, and how well they prevent surgical infections. In the Department's most recent report, of the 25 recommended care measures, New Jersey hospital performance exceeded national scores on 15 of the measures and was equal to national norms on eight measures. 

The Department also participates in education campaigns to promote patient safety. 

The Department has joined the CDC's One & Only Campaign. One Needle, One Syringe, Only One Time is the slogan of the national campaign. The New Jersey Department of Health is one of three CDC-funded "partner states" in the Campaign. As part of this campaign, Department staff educates providers on proper injection safety. 

Guidelines on injection safety include: 

  • Never administer medications from the same syringe to more than one patient, even if the needle is changed
  • Never reuse syringes or needles
  • Never use single-dose vials for more than one patient
  • Use multi-dose vials on a single patient whenever possible
  • Do not use bags or bottles of intravenous solution as a common source of supply for more than one patient
  • Follow proper infection control practices during the preparation and administration of injected medications
  • Wear a surgical mask when placing a catheter or injecting material into the spinal canal or epidural space
  • Insulin pens are single-use devices used for only one person
  • Whenever possible, dedicate point-of-care blood testing meters (glucometers) for one patient only. If not possible, make sure they are cleaned and disinfected after every use and between each patient, as described by the manufacturer
  • Never use re-usable finger stick devices for more than one person 

The One & Only Campaign is a public health campaign aimed at raising awareness among the general public and healthcare providers about safe injection practices. It is led by the Safe Injection Practices Coalition (SIPC), a group of healthcare-related organizations including the CDC. 

Since 2001, more than 150,000 U.S. patients have been told they may have been exposed to hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) because providers failed to follow basic injection safety procedures. The CDC has also documented transmission of potentially life-threatening bacterial infection when healthcare providers removed medication from single-dose vials, which typically lack preservatives, more than once for multiple patient injections.                


Last Reviewed: 3/6/2013