Arrogance Barrier to Patient Care According to Patient Safety Expert

In a commentary published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association Johns Hopkins patient safety expert Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD, argues that the health care industry does not yet have measurable, achievable and routine ways to prevent patient harm — and that, in many cases, there are too many barriers in the way to attain them, according to a press release.

One of the most important first steps, he says, is to eliminate the arrogance — of physicians who are overconfident about the quality of care they provide or always believe things will go right and are not prepared when they do not, and of hospital officials who fail to aggressively address problems like hospital-acquired infections.

“It’s unconscionable that so many people are dying because of these arrogance barriers,” Pronovost, a professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine stated in the release. “You can’t have arrogance in a model for accountability.”

Annually, roughly 100,000 people die from health care-associated infections, another 44,000 to 98,000 die of other preventable mistakes and tens of thousands more die from diagnostic errors or failure to receive recommended therapies, he writes. Arrogance, he says, is responsible for too many of them.

“To be accountable for patient harms, health care needs valid and transparent measures, knowledge of how often harms are preventable, and interventions and incentives to improve performance,” Pronovost stated.

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