Experts: Hospitals no safer than 15 years ago

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

July 23, 2014

A group of healthcare experts told a Senate subcommittee July 17 that patients in American hospitals are no safer than they were 15 years ago, when a then-groundbreaking report from the Institute of Medicine estimated that preventable events were responsible for up to 98,000 deaths a year, according to a report in Outpatient Surgery magazine.

More recent estimates of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients may be closer to 400,000 a year, more than four times higher than the IOM report, the article report added.  Several prominent healthcare experts were heard at the hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, including Dr. Ashish Jha, a Harvard School of Public Health professor, Dr. Tejal Gandhi, president of the National Patient Safety Foundation and Dr. Peter Pronovost, director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine. According to the report, speakers expressed concern that 15 years after IOM published “To Err is Human,” improvement in patient safety has been limited, sporadic and inconsistent.

Experts at the hearing called for industry-wide changes such as more reliable data, metrics and monitoring systems that can consistently provide accurate comparisons on outcomes and the need to establish a nationwide regulatory agency similar to the Federal Aviation Administration or National Transportation Safety Board, the report said