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Patient Safety and the Reliability of Health Care Systems

Paul Barach, MD, MPH; and Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP
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From University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, and Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Boston, Massachusetts.

Acknowledgments: Dr. Stephen Small participated in an earlier version of the series and the introduction to the series.

Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.

Requests for Single Reprints: Paul Barach, MD, MPH, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland, Chicago, IL 60637.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Barach: Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, University of Chicago, 5841 South Maryland, Chicago, IL 60637.

Dr. Berwick: Institute for Healthcare Improvement, 375 Longwood Avenue, 4th Floor, Boston, MA 02215.

Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(12):997-998. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-138-12-200306170-00013
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The dramatic increase in initiatives for patient safety as a national health care policy in the United States and several other industrialized nations has stimulated dialogue about systems redesign, culture change, and advancement of medical education and training. Patient safety and quality improvement have been identified as a critical clinical and research endeavor supported by the federal government accrediting bodies, regulatory agencies, and patient advocacy groups. Annals has been a pioneer in publishing many seminal articles devoted to patient safety (1). A new series, Patient Safety and the Reliability of Health Care Systems, is inaugurated in this issue of Annals with Runciman and colleagues' article (2), which is devoted to the need to change the roles of error and blame in health care. This series we hope will help to keep a constant drumbeat dedicated to the need to learn about new and robust ways to change the culture of health care to a culture of safety.

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