Patty Skolnik: Founder and Executive Director, Citizens for Patient Safety

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In 2001, Patty and David Skolnik spent nearly three years watching their only child, Michael, play victim to a broken system as a result of unnecessary brain surgery. Due to medical error caused by negligence and incompetence, routine expectations of our healthcare system proved ineffective in providing quality medical care and patient safety for 22 year old Michael Skolnik.

The family’s 32-month nightmare included turning their home into an ICU unit for the last six months of Michael’s life. Michael experienced numerous surgeries, infections, respiratory arrest, PE’s, paralysis, blindness, psychosis and more. Finally, in 2004, Michael looked into his father’s eyes, mouthed the words “I love you”, gave up his struggles and died.

In an age where disruption of our common expectations can lead to great distress, Patty Skolnik did not let anger command her tone of response to the horrific events that preceded. Instead, Ms. Skolnik took a daring step towards fixing a broken system. Ms. Skolnik has championed a nationwide effort to enforce new standards for equality and respect for consumers of healthcare and for families.

In 2005 Patty founded Citizens for Patient Safety (CPS), a grassroots, patient safety organization that has since provided support and resources to thousands of families and individuals nationwide. CPS has taken off like a shot out of a cannon, largely due to Patty’s determination. Never before has Colorado seen a patient group that has generated the amount of momentum and performed as successfully as CPS, now listing 3000 supporters and growing.

Through her passion, tears, and belief that everyone should have access to safe high quality healthcare, Patty has turned her family’s tragedy into strength and hope for others. CPS has promoted a collaborative approach. Everyone, from insurance companies to healthcare providers to attorneys to patients has joined Patty at the table. Since it was founded, CPS has made an impact on legislative initiatives and continues to do so. The Michael Skolnik Medical Transparency Act became law in 2007 and this year we hope it will be expanded to all licensed medical professionals in Colorado.

Patty is a national speaker and has been featured on programs such as the Today Show. She was invited to a meeting at the White House with 5 other families March 1, 2010 and was named one of CNN’s Intriguing People for March 1, 2010 as well.

Patty has received the Colorado Coalition for Patient Safety Award in Leadership and this year received the National HOPE AWARD from MITTS Medically Induced Trauma Support Services for Patients and Physicians.

Ms. Skolnik also sits on a number of Boards, advisory boards and the Governor’s Commission: Nurse Physician Advisory Taskforce for Colorado Healthcare.