‘To Err Is Human’ Initiative Set A Goal Of Curbing Preventable Medical Errors 20 Years Ago. But Hospitals Are Still Struggling.

“Everyone sat up and said: ‘Wow, we’re not very good. Not only are we very expensive, we kill a lot of people,’ ” recalled Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at University of California at San Francisco, who who has written about patient safety issues for years. Many of the report’s ambitious goals, such as creating a reliable system of measuring errors, have yet to be realized. In other news on hospitals: debilitating lawsuits, financial struggles at rural facilities, infant deaths from contaminated equipment, and more.

Modern Healthcare: Hospitals Fall Short Of Patient Safety Goals 20 Years After ‘To Err Is Human’At Signature Health, a safety-net hospital in Brockton, Mass., daily huddles take place at every staff shift change to discuss mistakes and near-misses. The goal is to raise awareness and anxiety about errors. In 2010, CEO Kim Hollon implemented the Lean method of process improvement throughout his organization. He added a safety-management system three years ago to improve how staffers think while performing potentially dangerous tasks, to protect both patients and themselves from harm. Among other things, that led to staff more consistently using patient bar codes during medication dispensing, which they would sometimes skip to save time. (Meyer, 11/9)

The New York Times: With Medical Bills Skyrocketing, More Hospitals Are Suing For PaymentWhen a judge hears civil cases at the courthouse in this southwest Virginia town two days a month, many of the lawsuits have a common plaintiff: the local hospital, Ballad Health, suing patients over unpaid medical bills. On a Thursday in August, 102 of the 160 cases on the docket were brought by Ballad. Among the defendants were a schoolteacher, a correctional officer, a stay-at-home mother and even a Ballad employee — all of whom had private insurance but were still responsible for a large share of their bill, the result of large deductibles and co-payments. (Kliff, 11/8)

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