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April 17, 2002

Patient Safety Efforts Should Focus on Medical Errors

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Medicine, Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Ill (Drs McNutt and Abrams); and VA Quality Scholars Program, Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio (Dr Aron). Dr McNutt is a contributing editor of JAMA.


Controversies Section Editor: Phil B. Fontanarosa, MD, Executive Deputy Editor.

JAMA. 2002;287(15):1997-2001. doi:10.1001/jama.287.15.1997

Physicians and other members of the health care team encounter many problems in trying to make medical care safe. Two reports by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) claim that the medical profession is not organized to deliver high-quality care.1,2 While we do not dispute the conclusions in these reports, we believe the reports may underestimate the magnitude of the problem as well as the character. Also, if not carefully considered, the report may lead to taking aim at isolated injuries rather than error. In doing this, the perception may be that medical care is being fixed; instead, the stage is being set for worse errors to come.3 The following case report highlights this issue.