[Skip to Navigation]
July 24/31, 2002

What Practices Will Most Improve Safety?Evidence-Based Medicine Meets Patient Safety

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health (Drs Leape and Berwick); Departments of Pediatrics (Dr Berwick) and Medicine (Dr Bates), Harvard Medical School; Institute for Healthcare Improvement (Dr Berwick), and Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital (Dr Bates), Boston, Mass.


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

JAMA. 2002;288(4):501-507. doi:10.1001/jama.288.4.501

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report To Err Is Human1 converted an issue of growing professional awareness to one of substantial public concern in a manner and pace unprecedented in modern experience with matters of health care quality. The epidemiologic finding that more than 1 million injuries and nearly 100 000 deaths occur in the United States annually as a result of mistakes in medical care came from studies nearly a decade old, but it was new information for the public, and it resonated strongly. In short order, the US Congress initiated hearings and the president ordered a government-wide feasibility study, which led to a subsequent directive to governmental agencies to implement the recommendations of the IOM report. The IOM called on all parties to make improving patient safety a national priority. In response, physicians, hospitals, and health care organizations have been searching for safe practices and asking what they should do to make health care safer.