Healthcare leaders, particularly in professional societies, have come to see medical errors as a serious problem worthy of their attention, said Harvey Fineberg, president of the Institute of Medicine. But despite increased efforts to improve quality, "tens of thousands of patients are dying because of the care they received in hospitals," Fineberg said. Speaking yesterday at a Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association meeting in Chicago, Fineberg said organizing healthcare reform around quality of care will garner more support than other objectives, such as controlling costs. "Quality can affect and reduce costs," he said. "Washing hands alone could save an estimated 40,000 lives, cut infections in half and save up to $3.6 billion in costs." The institute has recommended 20 priority areas for quality improvement, including asthma, coordination of care, diabetes, medication management and obesity. -- by Mark Taylor
IOM chief: Quality improving but still far to go
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