If "doctor knows best," why haven't quality and safety in medicine been more of a sure thing?
In the late 1990s, treatment-related deaths or "complications" were
the fifth leading cause of death for Americans. Yet healthcare practitioners
decried attempts to standardize treatment. "We're working with people,
not cars," they said. The result: an epidemic of preventable mistakes in
a medical landscape where patients wait for hours in "emergency" rooms,
fill out the same paperwork at each visit, and increasingly run the risk of
being dosed with the wrong medication or having the wrong limb amputated.
These problems spurred a group of dedicated physicians like Paul Batalden and Don Berwick to study the concepts of "quality improvement" used at Toyota and NASA, and to dare to apply them to the practice of medicine. This book tells their story, and how these "heretical" ideas have blossomed into a movement, bringing the focus back to where it should have always been: the patient.
Charles Kenney is the author of five works of nonfiction including John F. Kennedy: The Presidential Portfolio, Rescue Men, and three novels. A former Boston Globe journalist, he has served as a consultant to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts on the company's quality and safety initiative.