Released March 2001, this headline-making report from the Institute of Medicine, concludes that the nation's health care industry has failed to provide "safe, high-quality care consistently to all Americans." Offering a comprehensive assessment, the report criticizes the inability of current institutional structures to effectively treat those with "even common chronic conditions" because of the lack of coordination among different health care providers and the system's "tangled, highly fragmented web that often wastes resources by providing unnecessary services and duplicating efforts." The report recommends a complete overhaul of the current institutional structures, suggesting, among other things, that Congress allocate funds to begin to develop a nationwide technological solution to the problems of the disparate and often unreadable patient records that contribute to the current muddle. In addition, the report recommends that the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality "identify 15 or more common health conditions, most of them chronic" and assist health care professionals, hospitals, health plans, and purchasers in developing concrete strategies to improve care for these priority conditions over a five-year period. Much more is contained in the report, which was compiled by the same committee that published To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health Care System
in late 1999 -- a report outlining the prevalence and consequences of medical error in the health care system. As with all publications of the National Academy of Sciences, the entire report may be read, but not downloaded, online. Print copies may be purchased on-site.
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