Helen Haskell, MA is founder of the nonprofit patient safety organization Mothers Against Medical Error and president of Consumers Advancing Patient Safety. Since the medical error death of her young son Lewis in 2000, Helen has worked to improve healthcare safety and quality in a wide range of areas, including medical education, patient-activated rapid response, infection prevention, medical error disclosure, and patient empowerment, among others. In her home state of South Carolina, she was the primary architect of the Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Act, which required, for the first time, that healthcare providers be clearly identified and that patients be provided with an emergency response system in hospitals. She was also closely involved in the passage and implementation of the South Carolina Hospital Infection Disclosure Act of 2006. In 2007 the state of South Carolina endowed a Chair of Clinical Effectiveness and Patient Safety in the name of her son Lewis and in 2008 the South Carolina Patient Safety Symposium instituted the annual Lewis Blackman Patient Safety Champion Awards, now in their seventh year.
Helen is a World Health Organization champion and a director of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the National Patient Safety Foundation, and the International Society of Rapid Response Systems. She is a recently retired member of the AHRQ National Advisory Council, and a member of the steering committee of CUE, the consumer arm of the US Cochrane Center. She is a winner of Consumer Reports’ first national Excellence in Advocacy award and in 2009 was named by Modern Healthcare magazine as one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare.” Helen worked with the educational program company Transparent Learning on the production of the patient safety video The Lewis Blackman Story, winner of two national film awards. She sits on numerous national committees on patient safety and quality and is a frequent speaker in healthcare and community settings, including conducting training sessions for patients on navigating the medical system. She is author and co-author of numerous articles and patient educational materials and is co-editor of a forthcoming textbook on patient safety competencies for students of the health sciences.