Message From the Director

Jason Adelman, MD, MS

We are at a transformative time in patient safety—both in the field as a whole and at Columbia in particular. As the inaugural director of the Center for Patient Safety Science, it is my honor to draw on my decades of research and development; the extensive resources of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and our partners at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian; and the talents of our growing research team to achieve a future of innovation for patient safety.

The engine of our Center is high-impact research conducted by internal and external investigators that will drive innovation and support a rich mix of pilot projects and federally funded research grants. Spanning all departments and divisions, our multidisciplinary researchers will tackle a broad range of pressing issues that include diagnostic errors, medication safety, health equity and disparities, and others. As healthcare providers, we help the patients in front of us, but as quality and safety researchers, we have the opportunity to impact patients worldwide.

Our Center will also focus on education. Because healthcare is so complex, it needs a large cadre of researchers to make a difference. Our Center is developing junior faculty and clinicians in various departments to become researchers. Furthermore, we have established an in-house quality and patient safety training academy that will create a standardized curriculum for Columbia and affiliated faculty, nurses, medical assistants, students, and house staff, giving them the tools to identify hazards in their clinical environment and fix them.

In addition, we are integrating our efforts with operations so that our Center is directly impacting our patients’ day-to-day experiences. A key feature of this initiative will be to pair junior faculty pursuing patient safety research with an operations priority, so the healthcare system benefits from dedicated clinician-researchers, and faculty benefits from resources such as project management and data support. Through this active engagement of our community of clinicians and scientists, we’ll ensure that our advances in safety and quality reach all departments, locations, and services. Beyond Columbia’s walls, our Center will also promote the next generation of best practices to clinicians both nationally and globally through publications, media engagement, national conferences, patient advocacy groups, and symposia.

Our Center recognizes that another important resource in patient safety innovation is technology. Unlike other complex fields, such as the airline industry, that have transitioned from hazardous to “high reliability” systems by leaning into technology, the vast majority of healthcare is still done by humans, and humans make errors. I’m optimistic that today’s technologies, notably artificial intelligence, present exciting possibilities for making our complicated workflows hazard-free.

Through all these initiatives, we are committed to community and stakeholder engagement to make sure we are equitable in the development and implementation of each study, program, and protocol, and that our safety and quality efforts benefit all our patients equally.

Finally, one of the most important elements needed to succeed in patient safety is the investment, commitment, and support from leadership. Our Dean, Katrina Armstrong, MD, is not only establishing the Center, she is actively building a new culture of safety. By reaffirming the expectation throughout our institution that patient safety is an essential part of who we are and how we run our daily operations, she is positioning Columbia to be a national leader in this vital field.

Jason Adelman, MD, MS
Associate Dean for Quality and Patient Safety
Director, Center for Patient Safety Science
Program Director, Patient Safety Research Fellowship
Vice Chair for Quality & Patient Safety, Department of Medicine
System Associate Chief Quality Officer for Patient Safety & Learning Health System Science, NewYork-Presbyterian