Before our visit to Arlington National Cemetery, I had never considered the connection between the number of buried service men and women (~400,000) and the number of annual deaths related to medical harm (~440,000). The reality of the statement “We fill an Arlington every year” was quite poignant. As I continue my work in improving patient safety and reducing preventable harm, I will most certainly include this fact when speaking with hospital administrators and staff.
Another consideration is that each incident of preventable harm is someone’s mother/father/sister/brother/son/daughter. The stories we’ve heard (and will hear throughout the week) put a face to the harm. While I cannot even begin to imagine their grief, I appreciate their willingness to share their experiences so we as students can learn and make positive changes.