Without the input of patients and families who have experienced medical error we cannot truly understand all the factors that contribute to adverse events. Helen Haskell, Patty Skolnik and Carole Hemmelgarn have shared their personal stories with the residents, provided expertise and perspective in shaping the curricula and have courageously reminded all of us that emotion, humility and humanity in healthcare are absolutely essential for quality patient-centered care.



EmpoweredPatientCoalitionHelen Haskell, MA

HelenHaskellHelen Haskell is president of the grassroots organization Mothers Against Medical Error and co-director of the Empowered Patient Coalition.  Since the medical error death of her young son Lewis in 2000, Helen has worked as an advocate in the areas of medical education reform, patient-activated rapid response, infection prevention, medical error disclosure, and patient empowerment, among others.Mothers Against Medical Error In her home state of South Carolina, she was instrumental in the passage of the Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Act and has been closely involved in the passage and implementation of the Hospital Infection Disclosure Act. In 2007 her deceased son was honored with the state-sponsored endowment of the Lewis Blackman Chair of Patient Safety and Clinical Effectiveness.  Helen is a member of the AHRQ National Advisory Council, a board member of Citizens Advancing Patient Safety and the Nursing Alliance for Quality Care, and has recently been named to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement board of directors.  She is co-author, with Julia Hallisy, of numerous patient educational materials including The Empowered Patient Guide to Hospital Care for Patients and Families.

CitizensForPublicSafetyPatty Skolnik

PattySkolnikPatty is the Founder of Citizens for Patient Safety, (CPS) a global grassroots organization. CPS builds alliances between and within diverse communities united in a common purpose by building bridges between consumers, the medical community, insurance and the legal community to improve the healthcare system and quality that patient's receive. Patty worked diligently with the Colorado Legislature to pass the Michael Skolnik Medical Transparency Act which was enacted into law by the Colorado General Assembly in 2007 and amended in 2009.

The Act requires all physicians who submit an application for an initial license, license reinstatement, reactivation, or renewal, on or after January 1, 2008 to disclose specific information that can be accessed by the public.

Patty has also spearheaded The Michael Skolnik Expansion Act of 2010 that will go into effect July 1 2011. This will give profiles of all medical professional in Colorado on the Board of Medical Examiners website. Patty has also published Taking a Safe Healthcare Journey and does consumer training sponsored by hospitals to train the communities around them. Patty sits on many board and committees representing the Consumer and speaks internationally.

Patty and her husband David have shared the story of the loss of their son Michael in many forums to help bring awareness and improve patient safety. In 2010 the Skolniks partnered with Transparent Health in the creation of an educational video, “From Tears to Transparency – the Story of Michael Skolnik”. Patty and David currently reside in Centennial Colorado.

Carole Hemmelgarn MS

CaroleHemmelgarnCarole has more than 20 years experience in the healthcare industry. Her work has focused on improved communication interacting with private practice providers, and academic institutions with interns, residents and fellows. Her most recent experience involves working with health plans, medical groups, and employers collaborating on quality improvement, disease management, and prevention programs for their patients and employees. Her personal interest in the field of patient safety has led Carole to get a Master of Science Degree in the field of Patient Safety Leadership from the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Institute of Patient Safety Excellence. Carole is co-teaching a class for the Leadership in Patient Safety Master’s program at UIC. Carole currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her family.


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