AHRQ Misses ‘Simple’ Fixes To Prevent Medical Errors, Experts Write in JAMA
A government-commissioned report on reducing medical errors often misses "obvious" and "simple" practices to ensure patient safety, according to a critique by three safety experts appearing in today's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Drs. Lucian Leape and Donald Berwick of Harvard University's School of Public Health and Dr. David Bates of Harvard Medical School state that the report compiled by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality "highlights only practices that have been rigorously studied." Although the authors write that the report is a "superb and groundbreaking compendium of what is known about the evidence of effectiveness" of certain safety practices, they note that several easy preventive techniques -- such as checklists, sponge counts and techniques to ensure that surgeons operate on the correct area -- were omitted. "For policy makers to wait for incontrovertible proof of effectiveness before recommending a practice would be a prescription for inaction and an abdication of responsibility," the doctors write. However, Dr. Gregg Meyer, director of quality improvement and patient safety at AHRQ, defended the report. "These aren't the Ten Commandments. As a compendium of evidence, we think this is great, and we also think it will need updating," Meyer said (Tanner, AP/Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.