KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Experts Urge Senate Panel To Increase Hospital Safety Measures

Consumer advocates and medical specialists tell the committee that patients are not much safer today than they were 15 years ago when a landmark study on medical errors spurred calls for reform.

The Wall Street Journal: Medical Experts Press Lawmakers On Hospital Safety
Medical-quality experts told Senate committee members on Thursday that government action is needed to lower the rate of hospital medical errors and infections, which are believed responsible for an estimated 1,000 or more deaths a day in the U.S. Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union's Safe Patient Project, called on the federal agency that runs Medicare to require the publication of a wide range of hospital-specific infection rates and of medical outcomes such as surgical deaths and complications (Burton, 7/17).

ProPublica: We're Still Not Tracking Patient Harm
The health care community is not doing enough to track and prevent widespread harm to patients, and preventable deaths and injuries in hospitals and other settings will continue unless Congress takes action, medical experts said today on Capitol Hill. Dr. Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, said patients are no better protected now than they were 15 years ago, when a landmark Institute of Medicine report set off alarms about deaths due to medical errors and prompted calls for reform (Allen, 7/17).

Modern Healthcare: Hospital Patients No Safer Today Than 15 Years Ago, Senate Panel Hears
The problem of patients dying or being harmed because of preventable medical errors in U.S. hospitals remains one of grave consequence that is not getting enough attention, according to the chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, which met Thursday with a panel of patient safety leaders to spotlight the issue. Speakers at the hearing expressed concern that 15 years after the eye-opening Institute of Medicine report "To Err is Human" drew attention to the issue, improvement has been limited, sporadic and inconsistent (Rice, 7/17).

Politico Pro: Experts: Action Needed To Cut Preventable Medical Errors
A national patient safety board, increased monitoring of adverse hospital events, and financial incentives to encourage providers to focus more on medical errors are among the measures needed to finally make progress on hundreds of thousands of patient deaths annually, public health experts said Thursday. Fifteen years after a landmark report called attention to the problem, the experts told a Senate panel that preventable harms continue to exact a tremendous human and financial toll in the United States. The health care system hasn't "moved the needle in any meaningful demonstrable way," and policymakers need to take concrete steps to make a difference, said Ashish Jha, a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health (Villacorta, 7/17).

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