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Health Reform Group Takes Aim at Preventable Medical Mistakes

A widely quoted and oft-cited medical report from 1999 estimating that close to 100,000 patients in hospitals across the country were dying each year from preventable medical mistakes was flatly eye-opening to the public.

It was also likely erroneous, being refuted by various later studies, including a recent finding that well more than 400,000 people might be prematurely dying from preventable mistakes annually.

Although medical industry commentators and pundits might argue over what is the closest approximation of deaths attributable to this troubling cause, there is little disagreement over the general notion that the American medical industry has a material and resistant problem, namely, recurring medical errors that simply shouldn’t be happening.

And they kill. Patients die from flawed diagnoses of medical illnesses and diseases, medication errors, botched surgical outcomes, infections that they contract while in the hospital and many other causes closely linked to negligent care delivery.

Many efforts have been undertaken to fight against this problem, with the Patient Safety Movement being one of them.

Proponents of the Movement initiative hope that it might be different from other groups and coalitions that have banded together in efforts to curb medical mistakes and improve patient outcomes.

A principal of the group says that Movement is indeed differentiated and poised for success. He notes that, “This isn’t the same old thing.”

Indeed, Movement has strong and broad-based support. Both ex-President Bill Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a recent Movement summit, and the organization points to the participation of more than 500 hospitals and scores of patient advocates in its efforts.

Those efforts are focused predominantly on one towering goal, which is the eradication of all preventable medical mistakes by 2020.

That is a compelling and obviously formidable goal. Simply making material progress toward it would be a notable and laudatory accomplishment.

Source: Forbes, “Can business savvy, clout and charisma supercharge patient safety?” Michael Millenson, Jan. 29, 2015