Like aviation, patient safety needs federal regulation

A new federal agency should be established to oversee patient safety at healthcare facilities to reduce medical errors, Lucian Leape, adjunct professor of health policy at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said December 10, 2015 at a National Academy of Medicine symposium on advances and challenges in patient safety and healthcare quality.

The symposium marked the 15th anniversaries of the landmark Institute of Medicine reports To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System and Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century.

“We really ought to have a federal patient safety agency like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)” that exists for airplane safety, Leape said in his remarks, according to a December 11, 2015 MedPage Today article. “That’s what we need and we should have said that [in the report], and I’ll say it right now,” said Leape, a member of the committee that created the report. “The thing the FAA does is that it sets standards, enforces standards, and works with industry and makes sure the standards are the right ones and that people are all on board.”

Now, he said, “The only people who pay for medical mistakes are patients. There have to be consequences for the failure to do what we know is the right thing to do. We’ve spent 15 years relying on goodwill and persuasion, but there needs to be an element of discipline.”

Read the MedPage Today article: Expert: More Oversight Needed for Health Facility Safety

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