There have been great strides in the fight to reduce patient deaths due to medial errors, but more can be done. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that hospital-acquired conditions have dropped 17 percent between 2011 and 2013, resulting in 50,000 fewer deaths and saving the industry $12 billion. According to patient safety advocate and toxicologist John T. James, Ph.D, there is more that must be done, since estimates still put deaths due to medical errors at 400,000 per year.
According to Dr. James, the most important steps include access to complete medical records, comprehensive performance reviews for all clinicians, and the creation of a National Patient Safety Board to oversee reviews and synthesize information from across the country. Dr. James argues that medical record fragmentation makes it difficult to perform complete record reviews after incidents, and there is no unified system to hold chronically negligent practitioners accountable. A National Board would streamline access to comprehensive records by collecting and reviewing them in a single process, and create a single forum for identifying habitually dangerous practitioners.
This idea still lacks support by many organizations, many of whom argue that more regulation will only create a greater incentive to bury errors, and will not actually improve patient safety.