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Little Progress Made in Preventing Medical Errors: Report

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Over the last 10 years, little progress has been made in reducing medical errors in the United States, according to a report released Tuesday by Consumers Union.

In 1999, an Institute of Medicine report said as many as 98,000 Americans die every year from preventable medical errors. The report triggered congressional hearings and promises of reform, but little progress has been made in implementing key reforms recommend by the IOM, Consumers Union said.

The nonprofit group's report was released as Congress works on ways to tackle the rising cost of health care and to expand access to coverage. Reducing medical harm -- such as medication errors and hospital-acquired infections -- would improve patient care and reduce health costs, according to Consumers Union.

"There is little evidence to suggest that the number of people dying from medical harm has dropped since the IOM first warned about these deadly mistakes a decade ago," Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union's Safe Patient Project, said in a news release. "That means a million lives and billions of dollars have been lost over the past 10 years because our health care system failed to adopt key reforms recommended by the IOM to protect patients. As the debate over health care heats up in Washington, Congress should make sure that improving patient safety is a central part of any reform legislation it adopts."

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