A new level of anxiety for hospitalized patients and their families surfaced in recent days, as we learned that hospital-based medical errors are responsible for more than a quarter million deaths in the U.S. each year. This is significantly more than the number of deaths from medical errors that startled us in 1999, estimated as high as 98,000, with the release of the Institute of Medicine’s landmark report, “To Err is Human.” Since we’ve known about this problem for some time, what’s going on? I’d say that we have failed, as a community of stakeholders in health, to put what we know to use, and to find out more about what we still don’t understand. I’m talking about the science of health care delivery, sometimes called “health services research.” This work is typically funded by the federal government via AHRQ and NIH. But it isn’t funded at the level of scientific opportunity nor clear public health need – not by a long shot. We need more success stories like AHRQ’s groundbreaking research that reduced central line-associated bloodstream infections in hospitals which not only saved lives but resulted in billions of dollars in cost savings. One in five hospitals across the country now report zero central line infections.
AcademyHealth is the leading professional society that advocates for health services research. All the stakeholders in research and innovation owe it to ourselves, our families, and the steady improvement of the health care system, to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in advocacy. Join us, and them for the Capitol Hill briefing titled “From Discovery to Delivery: Research at Work Against Allergies and Asthma” on Friday, May 13, 12 – 1pm ET. More details in this newsletter.