Scope of the Problem

'Medical error' remains one of the most significant public safety issues. Evidence indicates that for all its technical prowess the American healthcare system generates an incidence of preventable harm and mortality that would not be tolerated within any other for-profit industry. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has failed to implement regulatory infrastructure capable of protecting the patient or even systematically tracking injuries associated with medical treatment. There are agencies that enforce regulations pertaining to: worker safety, nuclear energy, aviation, etc. However, there is no single federal agency charged with regulating medical practice or the power to compel best practices.

The following studies provide evidence of the scope of Health care associated harm and death:

Chart of 6th, 7th and 8th Annual HealthGrades Patient Safety Hospitals Study
6th Annual 2005-2007
7th Annual 2006-2008
8th Annual 2007-2009
Medicare patient safety events
Medicare patient safety events
Medicare patient safety events
Patient Safety Event Deaths
Patient Safety Event Deaths
Patient Safety Event Deaths

Nursing provides the vast majority of direct patient care. Whether it is transmission of nosocomial infection, medication error, wrong-site surgery, failure to protect, etc.; nursing was probably involved at some point. Nursing must act to establish safe patient care as its singular purpose.