Patient Safety and the “I” Patient:
Informed and Involved

Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States according to two recent studies, and they cost the economy $17 billion a year[i]  While healthcare organizations and research universities are funded to do more research and to train medical staff, Long Island resident Ilene Corina, President and founder of Pulse Center for Patient Safety (previously PULSE of NY) began community-based patient safety programs for the public over twenty years ago with minimal resources.

Winning numerous awards for her advocacy work and sitting on prestigious boards such as The National Patient Safety Foundation and The Joint Commission, Corina also received a full scholarship from the American Hospital Association / National Patient Safety Foundation Patient Safety Leadership Training to become a fellow for a year and training in Patient Safety.  Her project focused on patient safety and the most vulnerable populations such as young mothers living in shelters, people living with HIV/AIDS, people with various disabilities, families of people with Alzheimer’s/dementia, the transgender community, and much more.

Pulse CPSEA offers community workshops and training courses, as well as free bedside support and advocacy services. “Patient’s families can do a lot to help keep their loved ones safe from harm. No one should be alone in the hospital especially when we know how unsafe it can be,” explains Corina. “Patients families can do a lot to help keep their loved ones safe from harm”.  Corina encourages partner and family support, and teaches what can go wrong.

She knows firsthand what it feels like to be vulnerable and to experience a breakdown in communication. Corina lost her son more than 25 years ago when he kept bleeding following a tonsillectomy and she was sent home from four different emergency rooms and told, “Don’t worry.”  “No one learned from this experience,” she says, and she wants to ensure that other patients are listened to when they use “assertive but respectful communication.”  

“By listening to the patients who have lived the worst experiences in healthcare we can improve outcomes,” Corina writes in a blog called Rants of a Patient Safety Advocate (http://patientsafetyadvocate.blogspot.com/).  Patients— and often their families — are eyewitnesses to adverse medical events and errors, and their feedback is extremely valuable in learning what should be improved but is often not included in the follow up of a bad outcome.. Corina believes no one has more at stake than the patient and family, and leaving them out of patient safety is a poor idea that must be changed.  She travels to hospitals and to health conferences teaching the importance of patient and family participation.

She visits high schools to talk about medication safety with the strong belief that young people could avoid pain medication if they understood before an injury or surgery that they might become addicted.  She discusses the importance of having an honest and open relationship with your clinician.  Corina delivers community education programs as an introduction to patient safety and advocacy, and is teaching at Hofstra University’s Continuing Education program, Family Centered Patient Advocacy.

Contact Ilene Corina at 516-579-4711 and visit her website at www.icorina.com Learn about Pulse Center for Patient Safety at www.pulsecenterforpatientafety.org


[i] http://www.oneisanumber.org/one-is-a-number.html