“To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health Care System,” was published in 1999 by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) and brought attention to the need for the reduction of medical errors in the US health-care system.
As a result of this publication, efforts were made at both the macro and micro levels of health care to improve patient safety. Hospitals implemented policies for improved medication administration. Surgeons were encouraged to adhere to “time out” procedures prior to initiating surgical interventions, during which they state the name of the patient and the duties of each clinician present. State licensing boards require continuing education be completed on the prevention of medical errors prior to licensure and again on renewal.
A medical error is defined by the IOM as “the failure to complete a planned action as intended or the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim.” Awareness of the responsibility to prevent medical errors and improve patient safety is widely discussed and is addressed in the curriculum for registered nurses. Registered nurses are usually encouraged to be the patient’s advocates through this role, and much of the time they are the last line of protection against an error. This background often makes nurse practitioners better at completing the planned action as intended and using the correct plan to accomplish an aim.
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