Patient safety experts call for physician accountability

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s groundbreaking To Err is Human report, a report in NEJM suggests that the ’no blame’ model to improve patient safety has not done enough to improve practices and calls for hospitals to adopt an accountability approach that enforces penalties when providers fail to adhere to protocols.

According to an article in the NEJM by Peter Pronovost of Johns Hopkins and Robert Wachter of the University of California at San Francisco, failure to hold clinicians accountable for patient safety is the main reason health care is still riddled with errors, adverse events, and just plain non-adherence to some of the most basic rules.  The authors note that compliance with hand hygiene rules ranges from 30% to 70% at most hospitals, and few have sustained rates over 80%, while there are about 4,000 wrong-site surgeries in the U.S. annually despite a universally accepted protocol for preventing them.

The Wall Street Journal also reports on the article.

(SOURCES: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing,, October 5, 2009; The New England Journal of Medicine,, accessed October 6, 2009)