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Holding doctors accountable for medical errors

New York Times, December 18, 2009

Ten years ago, a national panel of health care experts released a landmark report on medical errors in the American healthcare system. Published by the Institute of Medicine, "To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System" estimated that as many as 98,000 people died in hospitals each year as a result of preventable mistakes. Spurred on by this finding, healthcare leaders across the country began addressing errors believed to be a result of systemic flaws. But some healthcare safety experts have begun questioning the assumption underlying the report's conclusions: that only healthcare systems, and not individual clinicians, could be held accountable for medical mistakes.