Tuesday, December 7, 1999


"Ensuring patient safety is not about fixing blame. It's about fixing problems in an increasingly complex system; about creating a culture of safety and an environment where medical errors are not tolerated."

President Bill Clinton
Tuesday, December 7, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton took strong new steps to ensure patient safety through the prevention of medical errors The President held a meeting with health care providers and consumers; signed an executive memorandum directing a federal task force to submit recommendations on improving health care quality and patient safety; and directed federal agencies to evaluate, develop, and implement health care quality and patient safety initiatives. Under the President's action, the over 300 private health plans participating in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program will be required to institute quality improvement and patient safety initiatives.

Preventable Medical Errors Put Patients at Risk. A study released last week by the Institute of Medicine estimates that more than half of the adverse medical events occurring each year are due to preventable medical errors, placing as many as 98,000 Americans at unnecessary risk. In addition to the severe health consequences these errors can cause, their cost in lost income, disability, and health care is as much as $29 billion annually.

Taking New Action to Reduce Medical Errors. President Clinton hosted a meeting with the Institute of Medicine, health care consumers, providers, purchasers, and members of the business and labor communities to discuss the need to prevent medical errors and to provide patients with quality care. After the meeting, the President announced strong new steps he is taking to improve health care quality and patient safety, including:

The White House Briefing Room
The White House at Work Archives