Your magazine is right on target with the Nov. 13 editorial, "Comin' at ya: Sequel to IOM's rousing report on hospital care out soon" (p. 24). Quality improvement and error reduction must become essential to the healthcare business model.
Building safety into the healthcare system requires a concerted effort by healthcare professionals and organizations, accreditors, government agencies and public policymakers. Last year's Institute of Medicine report catalyzed a variety of patient-safety initiatives already under way. We now know that a critical first step is creating environments in which caregivers feel safe to report and indeed participate in the analysis of serious errors. This should increasingly permit us to identify and repair vulnerable systems before accidents happen.
We applaud the healthcare leaders and organizations with which we have been working to make this approach a reality. Their efforts and their willingness to share lessons learned have already had a major impact on improved patient safety.
The next critical step is for Congress to enact legislation that would encourage the reporting and in-depth analysis of medical errors by giving healthcare organizations and professionals the universal, strong protections against public disclosure that already exist in several states. That has worked in improving safety in the airline industry, and we believe it will work in healthcare.
Major challenges lie ahead, but progress is being made. We look forward to the IOM's next report and to MODERN HEALTHCARE's continued support for patient-safety initiatives being undertaken by the Joint Commission and others.
Dennis O'Leary, M.D.
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.