Quality improvement experts meeting in Florida this week will examine three issues that may be hindering progress as they debate the success of efforts to reduce preventable hospital errors.
Emphasis will be placed on providing consistent care in every hospital department, as well as across the continuum of care, and sustaining those gains as new safety measurements are evaluated, said Dr. Don Goldmann, chief medical and science officer for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, whose annual conference is Dec 7-10 in Orlando.
Last week, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released a report estimating that 1.3 million fewer patients were harmed in U.S. hospitals in the three years following the launch of the HHS-funded Partnership for Patients in 2010.
But a Journal of Patient Safety report in September 2013 estimated that the number of premature deaths associated with preventable harms was more than four times higher than the 98,000 detailed in the eye-opening Institute of Medicine report To Err is Human published in 1999.
Getting consistent results throughout the hospital and across the continuum of care is problematic even for healthcare organizations that have relatively advanced safety initiatives, Goldmann said. And as new focus areas for quality and safety generate additional performance reporting measures, “It's very easy to lose traction on areas you've been doing well on,” he said. “Sustaining gains becomes challenging when you keep adding and not subtracting.”