Domains of Quality: Safety

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) considers safety to be one of the six domains of healthcare quality. The IOM defines safety as avoiding injuries to patients from care that is intended to help them.

In a report released in 1999 entitled; To Err is Human, the IOM estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 hospitalized patients die each year from medical errors, and another one million are injured.

In Patient Safety, published in 2003, the IOM noted that safety issues were widespread throughout the healthcare system including errors of both omission and commission, and called for standardized safety and error reporting, adoption of health information technology, and the establishment of comprehensive patient safety programs.

There is safety data for hospitals through organizations such as the Joint Commission and Leapfrog, but not much for the primary care and ambulatory care settings that are the basis for the HEDIS and CAHPS healthcare quality measures that OPA reports on.