IOM Medical Error Estimates Questioned, But Legislation Considered

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OncologyONCOLOGY Vol 14 No 3
Volume 14
Issue 3

When Janet Woodcock, MD, a top FDA official, appeared before a Senate committee in early February, she tried to put the issue of medical errors in perspective by referring to a patient who dies after chemotherapy. She rhetorically asked whether

When Janet Woodcock, MD, a top FDA official, appeared before a Senate committee in early February, she tried to put the issue of medical errors in perspective by referring to a patient who dies after chemotherapy. She rhetorically asked whether this would be a medical error, illustrating that just because a patient dies doesn’t mean that a physician or a medication is at fault. This is an important distinction, of course, especially given Capitol Hill’s current focus on the issue of “medical errors”—a topic that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) tossed onto the political front burner with its incendiary report late last year. The report alleged that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year in hospitals from medical errors, and has spurred many congressional committees to hold hearings.

Representative Bill Thomas (R-CA), chairman of the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, has suggested that perhaps the commission of medical errors ought to be addressed in the context of the House and Senate managed care bills. These bills passed both houses in 1999 prior to the release of the IOM report without containing any provisions relating to medical errors. One of the steps that the IOM advocated was mandatory reporting to state governments of all medical treatments that lead to serious injury or death. According to this mandatory reporting provision, chemotherapy would most likely be considered as one of these treatments, and the confidentiality of such information, including a physician’s identity, would not be protected. However, a General Accounting Office report issued in mid-January questioned the legitimacy of the IOM death estimates. “There is little certainty about the frequency of fatal ADEs [adverse drug events], because the data on fatalities stemming from ADEs are even more sparse than the data on overall ADE incidence.”

Articles in this issue

Comparative Economic Analysis of the Treatment of Relapsed Low-Grade B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) in France Using CHOP, Fludarabine, or Rituximab
FHIT Gene, Smoking, and Cervical Cancer
Final Report on the Safety and Efficacy of Retreatment With Rituximab for Patients With Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
Prospective, Randomized, Controlled Study of Zevalin Radioimmunotherapy Compared to Rituximab Immunotherapy for B-Cell, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma: Interim Results
IOM Medical Error Estimates Questioned, But Legislation Considered
Less Toxic Therapies for Hodgkin’s Disease May Reduce Secondary Cancers
Preserving Fertility in Young Women With Ovarian Cancer Does Not Decrease Survival
Iodine-131 Tositumomab for Patients With Transformed, Low-Grade Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma: Overall Clinical Trial Experience
Survival Rates Significantly Worse For African-Americans With Endometrial Cancer
Rituximab Has Significant Activity in Patients With Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Responders to Rituximab Show Continued Tumor Regression Over Time and a Progression-Free Survival That Correlates With Response Classification
PhRMA Criticizes FDA’s Proposed Rule on Antibiotic Approvals
Phase II Study of Rituximab in Combination With CHOP in Patients With Previously Untreated Intermediate- or High-Grade Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
New Antibiotic Effective in Treating Gram-Positive Bacteremia
Reduced-Dose Zevalin Radioimmunotherapy for Relapsed or Refractory B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Patients With Preexisting Thrombocytopenia: Report of Interim Results of a Phase II Trial
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