Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Modern Healthcare article: A long way to go

To Err Is Human Blog Series Logo

This post is part of our two-week series commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the seminal IOM Report "To Err Is Human." To see all posts in the series, please click here.

The below comes from an article by Jean DerGurahian in Modern Healthcare this week.  The full article is available here.

In the decade since the IOM's groundbreaking study on medical errors, there's progress to report, but many of the objectives remain elusive

In the winter of 1999, one ticking time bomb appeared to be the “Y2K bug,” when it was feared that computer glitches on Jan. 1, 2000, could cause any number of annoyances and even calamities. While that fizzled, another bomb—the Institute of Medicine report To Err is Human—soon exploded in the healthcare industry.

The IOM report is still causing repercussions 10 years later.

It was not the kind of event that later leads people to ask each other: “Where were you when you heard the news?” But Helen Haskell remembers when she first heard about the IOM report. She was in her car, listening to a news report on National Public Radio, and thinking it had little to do with her life. She recalls that moment now, a decade later, after losing her son to medical errors and helping to lead patient-safety advocates in their crusade for better care in hospitals. She founded the advocacy organization Mothers Against Medical Error.

Families are still losing loved ones to errors, Haskell explained during a recent conference hosted by Consumers Union. But the biggest difference in the past 10 years is, “where once there was denial, we now have tireless leaders.”

But what did it take to get to this point? The American Hospital Association, promoting its Prescriptions for Reform campaign that was launched in October, touts quality initiatives and improvements in organizational excellence that hospitals have made toward better and safer care.

AHA President and CEO Richard Umbdenstock, among others, hails the IOM report as a “landmark” in healthcare. Prior to the light shed on quality shortfalls at hospitals, providers were able to dismiss errors and patient harm as other hospitals' concerns, not their own.

“Ten years ago, we wouldn't have had this conversation, or we would have had it behind closed doors,” says Carolyn Clancy, director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, speaking at a recent Health Research & Educational Trust event commemorating the report.

Click here to read more.

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