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Hospital groups contest safety claim made in Senate hearing

During a recent hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, a serious patient safety allegation was raised by a panel of respected leaders on this very subject. This panel asserted that over the past 15 years, patient safety advances have been inconsistent, limited and sporadic in nature. Specifically, the panel noted that since the publication of the Institute of Medicine’s “To Err is Human” 15 years ago, patients continue to die and to sustain serious injuries due to preventable medical errors at devastating rates.

Many hospital administrators take issue with this pronouncement. According to Modern Healthcare, numerous hospital groups contend that patient safety improvements have been made steadily over the past 15 years, even though nationally representative data related to improvements may be relatively limited at this time.

The president of the Federation of American Hospitals insists that, “You have to question the baseline and how good was the data that provided that baseline.” He also asserts that the research cited by the panel and various senators during the hearing does not accurately, “reflect the reality of care in the hospital today, much less 15 years ago.”

The vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association further retorts that, “There's limited data, but on the measures where nationally representative data is collected it's easy to point to advances.”

These comments prove that the conclusions made by the panel are at odds with assertions made by major hospital groups. It seems appropriate that further study and comparisons should continue to be made so that the public and federal lawmakers can obtain a clearer picture of today’s patient safety reality.

Source: Modern Healthcare, “Patient safety is improving, has changed from 15 years ago, hospital groups contend,” Sabriya Rice, July 18, 2014

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