WASHINGTONAn Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee has urged instituting a comprehensive strategy to sharply reduce medical errors that result in needless death and injury. According to an IOM report, one study put the annual number of deaths in the United States from medical mistakes at 44,000 and a second study concluded the toll reached 98,000.
The IOM proposes creating a National Center for Patient Safety, which would be housed in the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research and would act as a clearinghouse for objective information on patient safety. It also recommends creating a mandatory system for public reporting of medical errors, excluding certain information, such as medical mistakes that are collected solely to improve safety and quality and that have no serious consequences,
Further, the committee urged the FDA to increase its attention to public safety through efforts such as eliminating similar-sounding drug names and confusing labels and packaging that foster mistakes; and urged health care organizations to create an environment in which safety holds top priority.