The healthcare industry has made progress in reducing medical errors over the past 15 years, but it’s not enough, according to Molly Joel Coye, M.D., chief innovation officer of UCLA Health at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Coye was the co-author of a seminal report named “To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System,” released in 1999. At that time, the report estimated that there were 98,000 preventable deaths every year due to medical errors. That estimate shook the medical community, and prompted awareness and attention to possible solutions.
Dr. Coye believes that medical providers that maintain clear and consistent electronic records have been making the most progress because they have access to the best data regarding errors. However, given the lack of transparency, and lack of interoperability of many electronic records systems, a significant amount of data is lost or never analyzed.
The problem of access to reliable data extends beyond healthcare providers. Although California law requires hospitals to report medical errors, that information is not made readily available to the public, and there’s no way for the state to know whether all adverse events are reported, according to an investigation by NBC Bay Area. Access to reliable and complete data remains the biggest issue in tracking preventable deaths due to medical errors. Without solid information, it is difficult to determine where the errors are being made and how best to address them system-wide.
You can read the interview here.