The opportunities for improved quality in healthcare are enormous. Now, there is more incentive for the industry to take quality seriously – Medicare will stop paying for 10 conditions that it deems to be “reasonably preventable”. For example, Medicare will no longer pay for the treatment of patients who received incompatible blood transfusions. No doubt, some of the techniques that have been used to improve quality on the factory floor will also be useful in the hospital – reporting defects so that attention can be focused on them, changing labels on sensitive medications so that additional care is given to them, asking all attending a surgery to count sponges and instruments to confirm that no unwanted objects have been left in the patient, etc. And, additional quality improvement techniques may be developed that are tailored just for healthcare.
New York Times, Sep 30, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/01/us/01mistakes.htm