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Isr J Health Policy Res. 2012 Jan 30;1(1):4. doi: 10.1186/2045-4015-1-4.

Quality of care: how good is good enough?

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  • 1The Joint Commission, 1 Renaissance Boulevard, Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181, USA.


Israel has made impressive progress in improving performance on key measures of the quality of health care in the community in recent years. These achievements are all the more notable given Israel's modest overall spending on health care and because they have accrued to virtually the entire population of the country.Health care systems in most developed nations around the world find themselves in a similar position today with respect to health care quality. Despite significantly increased improvement efforts over the past decade, routine safety processes, such as hand hygiene and medication administration, fail routinely at rates of 30% to 50%. People with chronic diseases experience preventable episodes of acute illness that require hospitalization due to medication mix-ups and other failures of outpatient management. Patients continue to be harmed by preventable adverse events, such as surgery on the wrong part of the body and fires in operating theaters. Health care around the world is not nearly as safe as other industries, such as commercial aviation, that have mastered highly effective ways to manage serious hazards.Health care organizations will have to undertake three interrelated changes to get substantially closer to the superlative safety records of other industries: leadership commitment to zero major quality failures, widespread implementation of highly effective process improvement methods, and the adoption of all facets of a culture of safety. Each of these changes represents a major challenge to the way today's health care organizations plan and carry out their daily work. The Israeli health system is in an enviable position to implement these changes. Universal health insurance coverage, the enrolment of the entire population in a small number of health plans, and the widespread use of electronic health records provide advantages available to few other countries.Achieving and sustaining levels of safety comparable to, say, commercial aviation will be a long journey for health care--one we should begin promptly.This is a commentary on

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