Get to Know the Author
Steve Harden is an author, speaker, safety consultant, and airline captain. He has written numerous articles on patient safety appearing in Patient Safety and Quality Health Care and other publications. He is also the co-author of the book CRM: The Flight Plan for Lasting Change in Patient Safety, published by HCPro. Results of his health care safety work have been covered by over 35 publications and media outlets including the New York Times, Health Leaders, PBS NewsHour, and Entrepreneur magazine.
Steve is the president and co-founder of LifeWings—a team of physicians, nurses, pilots, and safety system specialists that teach health care organizations how to eliminate medical mistakes and errors. He has worked with 130 health care facilities in the U.S. and around the world, training over 25,000 doctors, nurses, and medical staff in how to provide safer patient care.
Prior to his work with health care, Steve designed and implemented award-winning safety systems for the airline industry, military flight squadrons, and heavy construction companies. A captain for an international airline, he is a former U.S. Navy TOPGUN instructor pilot and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Married with five children, Steve resides with his wife in Memphis, Tennessee.
Get to know the Author
Q: How did you get involved in health care safety?
A: I’ve been a safety systems expert for over twenty years. Most of that time was spent developing safety practices and training to help commercial aviation become the safest transportation system in the world. After years of experience in aviation, a hospital in Tennessee contacted me in 1999 and asked for my help in its Emergency Department. Just like the airlines, the hospital wanted to eliminate mistakes and keep its patients from getting hurt.
Along with my team of aviation safety experts I developed a training program for the hospital to help it adopt the best safety practices from aviation. Our safety specialists taught staff members how to catch their small mistakes and correct them before they hurt their patients.
We were so successful in improving the safety of their patients that word of our work spread. Soon, we were helping in health care facilities all over the country provide safer care.
Q: How many health care organizations have you helped?
A: During the last decade, I’ve implemented patient safety systems in giant, metropolitan hospitals with over 800 beds and in tiny, rural hospitals with only five beds. I’ve seen the inside of teaching hospitals, Catholic not-for-profit hospitals, and mid-sized community hospitals as I’ve helped them put in place safety programs to protect their patients. I’ve worked with inner-city clinics, doctors’ offices, insurance companies, and state hospital associations. In all, I’ve helped almost 100 organizations become safer places to get health care.
Q: What happens when health care organizations use the patient safety system you and your colleagues developed?
A: Many of the hospitals we’ve worked with have won recognition for their patient safety records. Three of them have been recognized on the U.S. News and World Report list of Top 100 hospitals. Three other hospitals have won state awards for safety excellence. Several of our clients have become so safe that their insurance carriers have given them insurance premium rebates worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Q: Why did you write this book for patients and their families?
A: Travelling across the country helping health care organizations brings me into contact with a lot of people. As I meet folks in planes, hotels, or restaurants, the small talk invariably turns to what I do for a living. When people hear about my work, there are always two reactions. First, they are fascinated by the aviation connection to health care. Second, they always have a story to tell about what has happened to them or their loved ones in a doctor’s office or hospital.
They say, “Let me tell you about what happened to my mother,” or, “Wait until you hear what happened to my child,” or, “Hey, listen to what happened to my brother.” After they tell me their stories, the next question they ask is always the same: “What could we have done differently to prevent that?”
I wrote this book for everyone who wonders what he or she can do to ensure the safest health care possible. After 10 years of experience on the inside of health care facilities, I know what is safe and I know what puts you at risk.
Never Go to the Hospital Alone is written for the millions of patients and their families who never want to have to answer the question, “What could we have done differently to prevent that?”
Contact the author at SHarden@SaferPatients.com