From the New York Methodist Hospital and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York; Health Policy, Division of Advocacy, Safety Programs, and Patient Safety and Quality, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Washington, DC; and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Massachusetts, Worcester, Massachusetts.
The recent focus on health care safety is a response to the central ethical tenet of medicine-to do no harm. The delivery of safe hospital care has led to demonstrable reductions in medical errors, adverse events, and patient injuries. These improvements have led to a commensurate reduction of legal risk and the emotional toll on caregivers as well as families. It also has reinvigorated the reason many physicians went into medicine-to make a difference for women's health. The new, voluntary Safety Certification in Outpatient Practice Excellence (SCOPE) for Women's Health program of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is a means to both evaluate and recognize work in a critical but often neglected arena-the outpatient setting. It builds on infrastructure created for safety programs in hospital settings. Strong physician leadership, the development of an office culture committed to safety, communication and teamwork skills, safety programs for office-based surgery, medication safety, and tracking systems are all important for safe treatment of our patients in the office setting. The SCOPE Program defines the necessary safety goals for ambulatory women's health care and provides an educational pathway to reach those goals. SCOPE certification is an achievement recognizing the commitment of physicians and their staff to the health and safety of their patients.