Thursday, December 03, 2009

Patient Safety: Slow but Steady Progress

Dr. Robert Wachter is a UCSF "hospitalist expert" who has a great blog talking about quality, safety, and health policy.

He recently published an article in Health Affairs:
"Patient Safety At Ten: Unmistakable Progress, Troubling Gaps", which reviews how well (or not so well) we have done in improving patient safety since the famous IOM report ten years ago. Although not IT/EMR specific, it does stand in contrast to recent papers saying that EMRs have not improved quality significantly. This parallels increasing thoughts around the fact that process innovation is more important than product innovation. It is well worth a read.

December 1, 2009, marks the tenth anniversary of the Institute of Medicine report on medical errors, To Err Is Human, which arguably launched the modern patient-safety movement. Over the past decade, a variety of pressures (such as more robust accreditation standards and increasing error-reporting requirements) have created a stronger business case for hospitals to focus on patient safety. Relatively few health care systems have fully implemented information technology, and we are
finally grappling with balancing “no blame” and accountability. The research pipeline is maturing, but funding remains inadequate. Our limited ability to measure progress in safety is a substantial impediment. Overall, I give our safety efforts a grade of B−, a modest improvement since 2004.

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