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Medical News & Perspectives
August 8, 2001

Hospitals Get Safety Improvement Task List

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JAMA. 2001;286(6):661-662. doi:10.1001/jama.286.6.661-JMN0808-2-1

Washington—Citing a pressing need to improve patient safety in the nation's hospitals, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently released an encyclopedic report describing dozens of risk reduction measures—items such as using antibiotics for most surgical patients, asking patients to recall what they heard during informed consent for clinical procedures, and 71 other practices.

Instead of calling on individual physicians, nurses, and other staff to commit to habit the various practices, the federal agency emphasized—repeatedly—that the burden of incorporating safety improvements falls squarely on the shoulders of hospital leadership. When a hospital decides to implement a practice, such as giving β-blockers to any surgery patient at risk of myocardial infarction, they need to do it systematically, said Gregg Meyer, MD, of the AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. "A physician can enter it on his chart, but that's not enough. What system ensures that the patient gets the meds at the right time? Standing orders? Delivery from the anesthesiologist? It has to be consistent and reliable."

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