Patient Safety Interview: Susan Sheridan
Over the course of 2007 Sir Liam Donaldson, Chair of the World Alliance for Patient Safety, interviewed a range of world renowned patient safety experts. Each a specialist in their own field, from patient engagement to safe surgery, these individuals help us understand the varied aspects of patient safety and how healthcare improvement can be brought about.
Susan Sheridan became involved in patient safety after her family experienced two serious medical system failures. Her husband, Pat, died in 2002 after his diagnosis of spinal cancer failed to be communicated. Their son, Cal, suffered severe brain damage called kernicterus five days after his birth in 1995 when his neonatal jaundice was untreated. Susan is co-founder and past President of Parents of Infants and Children with Kernicterus, which works in partnership with private and public health agencies to eradicate kernicterus. In 2003, she co-founded Consumers Advancing Patient Safety, a non-profit organization that seeks a safe, compassionate and just healthcare system through proactive partnership between consumers and providers of care.
In 2004, Susan was asked to lead the World Health Organization’s Patients for Patient Safety initiative, one of several action areas of the World Alliance for Patient Safety. She is also a member of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Patient Safety Research Coordinating Center Steering Committee. The committee is charged with facilitating communications across projects in AHRQ’s patient safety programme, as well as collaborative interactions with organizations in the national and international patient safety arena.
She speaks frequently on patient safety and legal reform at national and international events, and edits a regular column on consumer issues in the journal Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare.
Susan Sheridan has a professional background in international banking and served in Ecuador with her late husband as a Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Eagle, Idaho with her children, Cal and Mackenzie.
"Consumers offer a unique contribution to patient safety with our stories and our visions because of our intimate experience with the "humanness" of medical error and harm. Our stories make the invisible... visible and are priceless treasures for learning. The ideal model in creating a safer healthcare system is the partnership between consumer and healthcare workers and organizations. We complete each other. Healthcare professionals provide the science and data and consumers and their stories and wisdom bring it to life."