An analysis of patient safety in the health care industry reveals a multitude of challenges facing providers and patients alike. A new commitment to providing safe, quality health care to patients is a critical part of reforming the U.S. health care system. But to be effective, a new health care discipline (i.e. Patient Safety), needed to be established that would emphasize the reporting, analysis, and prevention of medical errors that lead to adverse health care events. In analyzing this growing health care issue, I found that measuring and improving patient safety is complicated by many factors. We’ll examine a few of them in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the issues preventing the health care industry from resolving this problem.
First, it is extremely difficult to gather sufficient data to assess whether systematic reporting of medical errors and patient safety events are being accomplished. Secondly, there is widespread fear by health care providers that their participation in any official analysis of medical errors or patient care processes may be used against them in a court of law or damage their professional reputations. Thirdly, there is tremendous difficulty in aggregating and sharing critical confidential data across health care facilities and interstate lines. But these hurdles didn’t just pop up a year or two ago. Adverse provider-caused incidents have been increasingly problematic for over a decade. So to understand how we got to this point, let’s take a look back.
In 1999, a powerful review of the United State’s healthcare system was conducted by the Quality of Health Care in America Committee of the Institute of Medicine (IOM). They concluded that "it is not acceptable for patients t...
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...l and national leaders of the importance of this critical issue that will improve the safety and peace of mind for all patients during what many consider the most vulnerable time of their life.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2009, November). Advancing Patient Safety: A
Decade of Evidence, Design, and Implementation. Rockville, MD.
American Hospital Association. (1999). Hospital Statistics. Chicago: American Hospital
Committee on Quality Health Care in America. (1999). To Err is Human: Building A Safer
Health System. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Joint Commission. (2009, September 25). Retrieved November 30, 2009 from
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies
Volume 4, Issue 4, 835–860, December 2007.
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