To Err Is Human

Topics: Health care, Health economics, Healthcare Pages: 22 (6807 words) Published: February 2, 2013
To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System (Free Executive Summary)

Free Executive Summary
To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System Linda T. Kohn, Janet M. Corrigan, and Molla S. Donaldson, Editors; Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, Institute of Medicine ISBN: 0-309-06837-1, 312 pages, 6 x 9, hardback (2000)

This free executive summary is provided by the National Academies as part of our mission to educate the world on issues of science, engineering, and health. If you are interested in reading the full book, please visit us online at . You may browse and search the full, authoritative version for free; you may also purchase a print or electronic version of the book. If you have questions or just want more information about the books published by the National Academies Press, please contact our customer service department toll-free at 888-624-8373. As many as 98,000 people die each year from medical errors that occur in hospitals. That's more than die from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer and AIDS--making medical errors the fifth leading cause of death in this country. The Institute of Medicine now spearheads an initiative to improve the quality of care in America by focusing on the facts and making wide-ranging recommendations. Central to the ideas proposed by the IOM is the notion that skilled and caring professionals can--and do--make mistakes because, after all, to err is human. This is why it is vital that we put this issue at the top of our national agenda and seek ways to reduce these errors through the design of a safer health system.

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To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System

Executive Summary
he knowledgeable health reporter for the Boston Globe, Betsy Lehman, died from an overdose during chemotherapy. Willie King had the wrong leg amputated. Ben Kolb was eight years old when he died during “minor” surgery due to a drug mix-up.1 These horrific cases that make the headlines are just the tip of the iceberg. Two large studies, one conducted in Colorado and Utah and the other in New York, found that adverse events occurred in 2.9 and 3.7 percent of hospitalizations, respectively.2 In Colorado and Utah hospitals, 6.6 percent of adverse events led to death, as compared with 13.6 percent in New York hospitals. In both of these studies, over half of these adverse events resulted from medical errors and could have been prevented. When extrapolated to the over 33.6 million admissions to U.S. hospitals in 1997, the results of the study in Colorado and Utah imply that at least 44,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors.3 The results of the New York Study suggest the number may be as high as 98,000.4 Even when using the lower estimate, deaths due to medical errors exceed the number attributable to the 8th-leading cause of death.5 More people die in a given year as a result of medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297), or AIDS (16,516).6 Total national costs (lost income, lost household production, disability and health care costs) of preventable adverse events (medical errors result1 Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. This executive summary plus thousands more available at


To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System



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