Thursday, December 25, 2003

Another 120 people died needlessly today

The message delivered by speakers at the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations' recent "Decisions That Count" three-day conference on health care quality and patient safety in Chicago attended by physicians, nurses, attorneys and health care managers was that "The American media is failing us with health care," said Princeton University Professor of Political Economy Uwe E. Reinhardt, PhD. Dr. Reinhardt wondered what the public would do if news anchors mentioned in every broadcast that "another 120 people died needlessly" that day because of medical errors or some other quality failure.
National Quality Forum CEO Ken Kizer, MD, said it's time to recognize that "health care is a team sport" and noted that 80% of hands-on patient care in hospitals is delivered by someone other than a physician. He said simple things can be done to improve quality such as serving more nourishing food, requiring caregivers to get flu vaccinations and making sure hospital staff wash their hands between patients. George J. Annis, who chairs Boston University's Dept. of Health Law, cited efforts to get doctors to wash their hands as an example of how low the quality bar has been set.

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