White House Takes Action to Reduce Medical Mistakes

For millions of patients and their families, the current health care system is woefully inadequate. Patients that rely on hospitals to treat them in their time of need are often further victimized by medical errors, injuries, and complications that are preventable. Some hospitals have attempted to improve patient care by adopting new safety strategies such as electronic records. But patients continue to be harmed. Where these hospitals have failed, the Obama Administration hopes to step in.

Federal officials announced an unprecedented health care initiative that pairs private insurers, business leaders, hospitals, and patient advocates in a cooperative attempt to eliminate preventable harm to patients. The goal is to save lives and money by reducing the number of avoidable mistakes the kill thousands of Americans every year.

After more than a dozen years of agonizingly slow progress, the new program aims to cut the number of harmful preventable conditions by 40 percent in the next three years. It also seeks to cut hospital readmissions by 20 percent. The results, if achieved, will be dramatic.

Not only will fatal mix-ups be reduced, such as wrong medications or wrong surgical procedures, but medical costs could be significantly cut. Although the work is funded by $1 billion from the new health care law, it has the potential to save Medicare up to $10 billion at the same time. Hospitals that improve care will be rewarded, along with physicians that meet higher standards. Ultimately, patients will realize the greatest benefit if hospitals once again become a place of healing rather than a source of harm.

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