New laws and mobile app aim to support safer maternal care

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The Patient Safety Movement Foundation is supporting two new laws enacted this past December with the goal of improving the safety of mothers in hospitals.

The foundation also has unveiled its first mobile app, called PatientAider, for friends and family to stay in touch and share information with each other and clinicians.

More than 600 mothers die annually in the United States from events that could be prevented if hospitals put proper safety processes in place, says Joe Kiani, founder and chair of the foundation.

“These children, families and communities will never be the same,” he adds. “I hope to see more legislation focused on improving patient safety in our hospitals.”

Toward that end, the Preventing Maternal Deaths Act, H.R. 1318, will work with states to establish or improve maternal mortality review committees that will examine pregnancy-related deaths and identify opportunities for prevention. Congresswomen Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash) and Diana Degette (D-Colo.) sponsored the bill, which more than 80 organizations supported in a letter to congressional leaders.

The Improving Access to Maternity Care Act, H.R. 315, will help to identify areas in the nation where there remain serious maternity care shortages and gaps in care. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas), is the bill sponsor.

Both enacted bills seek to understand the numbers and types of instances of harm caused by providers to which will lead to finding solutions to preventable death, with experts reviewing data and how to improve safety by using data analytics to understand the nature of problems and act on them, according to Kiani. “We hope the laws will expand beyond maternal care to all types of care,” he notes.

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The new mobile app for patients, family and friends is embedded with information on preparing for a hospital stay; it also includes tips on how to avoid harm in the hospital by asking providers the right questions.

For example, patients who will have a catheter will learn to watch everyone who comes in the room, including clinicians, and they can ask the person to wash their hands, which substantially reduces the risk of infection, Kiani explains.

Clinicians also are encouraged to use the foundation’s mobile app to communicate with colleagues, share data with patients and, when appropriate, send alerts to other clinicians, patients and families via smartphones.

Since 2013, the Patient Safety Movement Foundation has worked with software vendors to provide access to the data on medical devices. This information includes patient monitor data, pulse rate, ECG waveforms, heart rate and hemoglobin levels. Some 89 companies have signed the pledge, which helps hospitals increasingly rely on predictive algorithms and decision support to enhance care and outcomes.

These companies, Kiani says, no longer decline to share proprietary data. “Doctors and other stakeholders tell us when companies are not sharing, and we talk to them and they fix it.”

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