Friday, June 25, 2004

How About a Good Jacking Up?

My desk tends to pile up with items clipped for use as the basis for postings to this blog. Many never make the cut and end up in the proverbial File 13.

But today I came upon one such that still seemed worthy of comment. It was an article that appeared in the May 23 issue of Parade, the tabloid-type magazine that accompanies many Sunday papers.

The article was titled “How to Protect Yourself” and was in response to the now famous Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on deaths due to medical errors in hospitals.

As someone who spent his working life in hospital administration and who always believed, perhaps somewhat naively, that the central purpose of a hospital is to serve the best interests of its patients and its community, I confess to being bothered by the idea that the hospital has become something that patients have to protect themselves against.

The article listed the most common types of errors, all of which reflect sloppy practice and lack of discipline. It went on to suggest what patients might do to protect themselves. It also identified steps that health care agencies are taking to make things better.

However, the article ended with a quote from Arthur Levin of the Center for Medical Consumers and a participant in the IOM study. After acknowledging the efforts that are under way, he said, ”There is, however, a systemic lack of urgency about getting this job done quickly….There isn’t enough attention being paid to the fact that, as we speak, people are dying or being injured because we’re not doing enough.”

It makes one think that in addition to the need for redesign, our health care delivery system could use a good jacking up.

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