In 2001, 11-year-old Justin Micalizzi died following an incision and drainage of a septic ankle.
Like others whose lives were shattered by the untimely loss of a child, Justin’s parents sought comfort among those who could relate to the pain they felt.
When it was determined that Justin died from a preventable medical error, it wasn’t long before she became an advocate for patient safety and quality. In 2003, Dale founded Justin’s HOPE Project.
“Justin’s HOPE Project focuses on HOPE: Healthcare Openness, Professionalism and Excellence,” Dale says. “Through the efforts of Justin’s HOPE, the Task Force provides education, research and reform toward quality and compassion in healthcare delivery. The vision for this project is to promote quality, safe, compassionate, patient and family centered healthcare and resolution of issues around medical errors through open communication.”
Dale has also established a partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and awarded 19 IHI Forum Scholarships in Justin’s memory since 2008.
“Connecting these students to the thought leaders in patient safety was also important to me so more collaboration was necessary,” Dale says. “The beneficiaries will bring this knowledge with them throughout their careers and the world will be safer and kinder. That is my goal.”
In 2010, Dale became involved with the Paediatric International Patient Safety and Quality Community (PIPSQC), an international collaborative of professionals sharing a passion for patient safety in paediatrics. Through her connections at PIPSQC, she learned about Patients for Patient Safety Canada (PFPSC). She was asked to feature Justin’s story in the PFPSC newsletter Safety Net, helping to spread awareness and work collaboratively toward the common goal to save lives.
With her education and training focused on child welfare and development, PIPSQC was a perfect fit for Dale. With the help of Dr. Genevieve Paisley, Dale created the PIPSQC Ambassadors, a group of parents who have gotten past their anger and wanted to work with providers and to spread the message of patient safety and quality.
At Justin's HOPE Project and PIPSQC, part of the mandate is to reach out to other like minded organizations and connect, which introduced Dale to Patients for Patient Safety of Canada, a patient-led program of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. Justin’s story was recently featured in PFPSC’s Safety Net newsletter.
“That's how the ripple effect is created and how we spread awareness together. It's a collaborative effort of working toward a common goal to save lives,” Dale says. “The momentum spreads faster in partnership.”
For more information on Dale and her work and links to a variety of resources, please visit http://justinhope.tumblr.com/.