Patient Safety

Memories of Gina Pugliese – A Relentless Advocate for Patient Safety A Personal Reflection on Why We Must Do More to Improve Patient Safety

Editor’s Note: In this article, Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety) remembers Gina Pugliese and remembers how she pushed him to do more for patient safety.

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

It is with great sadness that I learned that Gina Pugliese passed away on March 4, 2019, after a long battle with cancer.

About 5 years ago, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety had the pleasure of adding Gina to our board of advisors. Now, Gina probably should have refused my offer to join our board given all that she was doing at that time. As Kristine Russell recently wrote in memory of Gina:

Gina was full of energy, had a vibrant personality, and was dedicated to the cause of fighting infections. Armed with studies and her commitment to teaching she served in multiple clinical, teaching, nursing, hospital administration, safety, and all facets of infection control.

I would see her racing down the aisles at an Association of Professionals in Infection Prevention and Control (APIC) meeting, The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), or other teaching events. We’d always take a few minutes though to compare the accomplishments of our daughters.

Gina spoke at numerous conferences and published over 150 articles and 8 books. She was on the faculty for Rush University College of Nursing and University of Illinois, Public Health. She also served as an associate editor for the American Journal of Infection Control and the Journal of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Most recently she served as Vice President of the Safety Institute at Premier Healthcare Alliance.

@HPN_Online: Celebrating Gina Pugliese and why she matters Click To Tweet

Wow! A flurry of patient safety energy!

I first had the opportunity of working with Gina when the Premier Safety Institute put together a webinar, “Safe opioid use – Strategies for reducing adverse events and related harm.”

That initial collaboration with Ms Pugliese quickly led to others with PPAHS, including her embracing our initial and still on-going initiative to improve opioid safety. I couldn’t help ignore her passion to improve the safety of patients and the quality of care, which resulted in her being appointed to the PPAHS board of advisors.

But, Gina was always pushing for more!

Shortly after her appointment, we met at a patient safety conference and she said to me that although opioid safety is a priority – and should remain a priority – PPAHS really needed to do more. She told me that PPAHS should engage in the broader discussion about a more balanced approach to pain management. At that moment, I remember asking myself this question, “How are we going to engage in yet another safety issue? Aren’t we doing enough already?”

However, instead of saying what I was really thinking, I said, “Why not?”

But, Gina was right – a more balanced discussion of pain management is what we need, as she wrote in this article – “Balancing pain management with technology, safely and effectively,” which led me to author this article arguing for a more balanced approach, “We Need to Focus on Patient Safety to Battle the Opioid Epidemic: 5 Key Steps to a More Balanced Approach.”

So, when you think that you just cannot possibly implement – let alone think of another patient safety initiative – think of Gina Pugliese, a relentless advocate for patient safety, and ask yourself – why not?

RIP Gina Pugliese. We remember and salute you, and encourage others to follow your leadership. #patientsafety @HPN_Online Click To Tweet

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