Friday, December 11, 2009

Ten years later

Being surrounded by nurses and doctors and fancy medical gadgets always seemed like the safest of places to be when struck down by illness. However, ten years ago this month an IOM report with the somewhat ironic title, To Err Is Human, was released, shattering the perception that hospitals are indeed safe, or at least as safe as we wanted to believe.
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The single most uncomfortable piece of the report was the figure 98,000, representing the estimated number of Americans who die each year in hospitals from preventable medical error.

A good slice of error-related deaths in our hospitals are caused by preventable hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), which, according to CDC data, are on the rise. Medical malpractice lawyers are already champing at the bit—HAIs are seen as the new asbestos!

So, on the tenth anniversary of the IOM’s groundbreaking study, perhaps we should take a breather from all the bitter infighting about healthcare reform and ask ourselves why untold numbers of Americans are dying in hospitals from preventable infections. Maybe asking the question will lead to an answer.

Isn’t that healthcare reform?

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