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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2003 Sep;58(9):M813-9.

Patient safety in geriatrics: a call for action.

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Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research, Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bedford, Massachusetts 01730, USA.


Patient safety has become a major public health concern following the publication of the landmark report, To Err Is Human, by the Institute of Medicine in 1999. This report, along with a subsequent report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, recommended the design of a safer health care system by integrating well-established safety methods to avert medical errors. However, neither patient safety report specifically addressed the implications of safety for elderly patients. This article examines those implications by describing the association between aging and medical errors, identifying geriatric syndromes as medical errors, and focusing on six recommendations that will improve the safety of geriatric care. These six recommendations include the detection and reporting of geriatric syndromes, identifying system failures when geriatric syndromes occur, establishing dedicated geriatric units, improving the continuity of care, reducing adverse drug events, and improving geriatric training programs.

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