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January 30, 2008

Improving Patient Safety by Taking Systems Seriously

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health, Division of Health Policy and Management, Berkeley (Dr Shortell); and Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management and Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (Dr Singer).

JAMA. 2008;299(4):445-447. doi:10.1001/jama.299.4.445

Patient safety has been a priority in health care since Hippocrates admonished physicians to “first do no harm.” Even so, the Institute of Medicine found in 2000 that approximately 98 000 patients die from preventable medical errors each year.1 Recent US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates project that 270 individuals die each day from hospital-acquired infections.2 Despite substantial efforts and investments, widespread and substantial improvement is not evident.