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Pushing the profession: how the news media turned patient safety into a priority
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  1. M L Millenson, Visiting Scholar
  1. Institute for Health Services Research and Policy Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 M L Millenson, 2735 Fort Sheridan Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035, USA;
 m-millenson{at}northwestern.edu

Abstract

The problem of patient safety has been repeatedly identified in the medical literature since the mid 1950s, but regular revelations about patient deaths and injuries resulting from treatment have had almost no effect on the actual practice of medicine. Only very recently has the medical profession made a systematic effort to reduce or eliminate the many preventable deaths and injuries that occur in hospitals each year. This review traces the diffusion of innovation in medical error reduction to the public shaming of the profession that occurred as a result of stories that appeared in the news media. The focus is on the USA, but news stories about patient safety are sparking a similar process throughout the western world.

  • patient safety
  • medical errors
  • shame
  • news media
  • press
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