Washington Post Looks at Lack of Progress in Reducing Medical Errors Since IOM Report
The Washington Post today looks at the lack of "significant progress" in the effort to reduce medical errors since the release of an Institute of Medicine report in 1999 that found that preventable medical errors lead to the death of as many as 98,000 hospitalized U.S. patients every year and injure 1 million more. The report prompted Congress to hold hearings on the issue and allocate $50 million for medical error prevention research. In addition, former President Clinton recommended mandatory reporting of serious errors, and lawmakers introduced four bills that would have created medical error reporting systems. Further, a consortium of Fortune 500 companies established the Leapfrog Group, which is urging hospitals to implement new methods to reduce mistakes. Despite those efforts, the Post reports that there has been "a lot of talk, but no significant progress" in reducing medical errors because of "fierce resistance by doctors and hospitals" to mandatory error reporting, "a lack of oversight by the federal government and the absence of an effective consumer lobby." Dr. Lucian Leape, a Harvard physician who helped write the IOM report, said, "Before the IOM report, nobody was doing diddly squat. Now there are a lot of good people involved and a tremendous amount of activity. Of course, activity is not the same as progress." The Post examines five areas -- medication errors, wrong-site surgery, hospital-acquired infections, fatigue and supervision and the nursing shortage -- that "directly affect hospital patients" to see the progress that has been made since the release of the IOM report (Boodman, Washington Post, 12/3).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.