Magazine article Drug Topics

Task Force Starts Shaping Research to Cut Med Errors

Magazine article Drug Topics

Task Force Starts Shaping Research to Cut Med Errors

Article excerpt

The first national summit on medical errors and patient safety was held in Washington, D.C., last month. Its aim was to begin setting a coordinated research agenda to help reduce mistakes by 50% in five years. That's the goal set last year by the Institute of Medicine in its landmark report, To Err Is Human. The report said evidence suggests 44,000 to 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of preventable medical mistakes, including as many as 7,000 from prescription drug errors. The cost to the nation's health-care system was put at as much as $8.8 billion annually.

"To err is human, but to do nothing about it is inhumane," said John Eisenberg, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, which organized the summit. AHRQ is part of the Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force that President Clinton ordered to head federal efforts to answer the IOM's challenge.

Michael Cohen, president, Institute for Safe Medication Practices, decried the "cycle of inaction" that sees the same errors repeated time and again despite widespread warnings and strategies to prevent them. "Research is needed to identify the current level to which known error-reduction strategies have been adopted," including motivators and barriers that affect their adoption, he told the summit. …

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