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From the Archives Journals | Clinician's Corner

Solutions for Improving Patient SafetySolutions for Improving Patient Safety

Edward H. Livingston, MD
JAMA. 2010;303(2):159-161. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2010.
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Nearly a decade ago, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published “To Err Is Human” highlighting the frequency of preventable deaths due to medical errors.1 According to the IOM, as many as 98 000 patients per year die needlessly in US hospitals. Adopting a more rigorous safety culture should eliminate these deaths. Given the natural inclination of the medical community to promote good care and avoid harm, it was expected that medicine, as a profession, would have embraced changes to prevent these errors. Five years after the report was issued, an overview of the effects of the report demonstrated that little change had occurred.2 A decade has now passed since the IOM publication and medical errors remain common, leading some to recommend government intervention.3 The slowness to rally around patient safety has been ascribed to inadequate accountability. Recommendations have been made to deliver harsh penalties to those who fail to comply with patient safety guidelines.4

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