Temporal trends in rates of patient harm resulting from medical care.
Despite the past decade's intense focus on patient safety, one fundamental question remains unanswered: are hospitalized patients safer than they were 10 years ago? Unfortunately, this study indicates that the answer may be "no." The investigators analyzed medical records from 10 North Carolina hospitals over a 6-year period, using the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's Global Trigger Tool to identify possible adverse events, and found that the incidence of both preventable and non-preventable adverse events remained unchanged. Recent research has also confirmed a persistently high rate of adverse events in Medicare and privately insured patients. The recent 10th anniversary of the seminal Institute of Medicine report that launched the patient safety movement prompted several unsparing assessments of the state of the field, including a commentary by Dr. Robert Wachter and a plenary session at the National Patient Safety Congress.