The crashes that didn’t happen

January 10, 2018

So much happened in 2017 that it’s easy to miss something important that didn’t happen.

In 2017, there were no accidental deaths on commercial airlines (read the Reuters story). The firm that tracks these events called it “the safest year for aviation ever.”

As consumers, we might feel that “not crash” is a base level expectation when we get on a plane. But for those of us who work in safety, this is an inspiring milestone.

Safety in the health care setting has learned a lot from aviation safety. Airplanes and people are complex and not always predictable, and when little things go wrong, they can cause big problems. What’s more, the public’s attitude about the entire industry can be shaped by one mistake. Both aviation and health care have made huge improvements by sharing safety data and sharing best practices.

Washington State has been a pioneer in developing and implementing this approach in hospitals. A dozen years ago, we made a commitment to set aside competition and share information about improving patient safety. Over those years we have dramatically reduced infection rates, early elective deliveries, sepsis and many other preventable hazards.

Like the airline industry, progress is good, but it’s not enough. Like the airlines, our goal is zero: zero preventable infections, readmissions and adverse events. Zero patient harms. Our hospitals share their data with each other, with us and with the public. Dig into the data or learn how you can stay safe in the hospital by visiting

We know how much our communities need this, and we’re going to keep moving forward.

Cassie Sauer
WSHA President & CEO


Jennifer Graves
WSHA Senior Vice President for Patient Safety & Quality Operations


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Washington State Hospital Association
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Seattle, WA 98104

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