A decade after the National Institute of Medicine's landmark study on patient injury resulting from medical treatment, little progess has been made, according to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article reports that "[d]espite enhanced attention on patient safety following the 1999 Institute of Medicine report on medical errors, 'the penetration of evidence-based safety practices has been quite modest.'" One evidence-based safety practice is the use of electronic medical records, but just 1.5% of hospitals have adopted new electronic recordkeeping technology.
The most frightening aspect of this report is, perhaps, the conclusion that 63% of the patient injuries were preventable. We would be interested to know how hospitals treated those preventable patient injuries — that is, did the hospitals do right by their patients and fix what they could, help what couldn't be fixed, and make up for what couldn't be helped?