Healthcare organizations and the federal government together must develop national standards for data collection and interchange across a seamless, secure electronic network in order to improve patient safety and reduce the prevalence of medical errors, according to a new set of recommendations by the Institute of Medicine.
The IOM spells out its plan in "Patient Safety: Achieving a New Standard for Care," released online Nov. 20. The report, the third installment of the IOM series on healthcare quality, will be available in book form early next year.
In this latest volume, the IOM Committee on Data Standards for Patient Safety maps out a vision of all healthcare organizations nationwide: providing instant access to complete patient information and clinical decision support tools for clinicians and patients alike, as well as capturing data on patient safety, including records of near misses.
"Every day, tens if not hundreds of thousands of errors occur in the U.S. healthcare system," the report says. "The committee strongly believes that patient safety is indistinguishable from the delivery of quality care."
The IOM espouses a "culture of safety" that encourages clinicians, healthcare organizations and patients to play active roles in identifying potential and actual errors, taking steps to prevent or mitigate mistakes and reporting the information for educational purposes. "For the first time, I think, in the history of literature, we've defined a culture of safety," says committee member Brent James, M.D., executive director of the Institute for Health Care Delivery Research at Intermountain Health Care in Salt Lake City.