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U.S. Health Care System Fails to Protect Patients From Deadly Medical Errors
Date:5/20/2009

a million lives and billions of dollars have been lost over the past ten years because our health care system failed to adopt key reforms recommended by the IOM to protect patients. As the debate over health care heats up in Washington, Congress should make sure that improving patient safety is a central part of any reform legislation it adopts."

The IOM's 1999 To Err is Human report estimated that medical errors cost the U.S. $17-29 billion a year, and recommended sweeping changes to the health care system to improve patient safety. The IOM called for a measurable improvement in patient safety, stating it would be "irresponsible to expect anything less than a 50 percent reduction in errors over five years." The report prompted a flurry of activity in Washington, including seven high profile hearings in Congress and the introduction of five medical error bills. But none of those bills were adopted and progress in implementing a number of the IOM's key recommendations has been frustratingly slow.

"One decade later, we can't say whether we are any better off today than when the IOM first sounded the alarm about medical errors in 1999," said Arthur Levin, Director of the Center for Medical Consumers and member of the IOM's Committee on the Quality of Health Care in America, which issued the landmark To Err is Human report. "We can't wait another decade to take the steps needed to protect patients from deadly and costly medical errors. The time to act is now. Too many lives and health care dollars are at stake." Levin assisted Consumers Union with its report.

Consumers Union's report reviewed four key IOM recommendations to make health care safer:

Implement safe medication practices: According to the IOM, at least 1.5 million preventable medication errors cause harm in the U.S. and cost $3.5 billion each year. Medication errors include administering or prescri
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SOURCE Consumers Union
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