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PSNet: Patient Safety Network

Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis.

Levit L, Balogh E, Nass S, Ganz PA, eds. Committee on Improving the Quality of Cancer Care: Addressing the Challenges of an Aging Population, Institute of Medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2013. ISBN: 9780309293099.

Cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to preventable errors in both inpatient and outpatient settings, as their care involves exposure to high-risk medications and requires closely coordinated care. Seen in that light, this Institute of Medicine report, which bluntly concludes that the current system of cancer care is untenable, is particularly concerning. The report highlights numerous deficiencies in the current system, such as insufficient compliance with evidence-based guidelines, high rates of medication errors, and failure to incorporate patient preferences into advanced care planning. To reshape how cancer care is delivered, the report recommends leveraging information technology to augment care coordination and real-time analysis of treatment data, better end-of-life planning, and improving communication with patients and families around prognosis and the risks and benefits of treatments. Multiple AHRQ WebM&M commentaries discuss safety issues in oncology patients, including a case of a chemotherapy medication error detected by the patient himself and a near-fatal error ascribed in part to poorly coordinated care.