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Acad Med. 2006 Sep;81(9):817-22.

Safety in the academic medical center: transforming challenges into ingredients for improvement.

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Institute for Health Policy, Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners Health System, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Patient safety has emerged as an important challenge to the leadership of academic medical centers (i.e., teaching hospitals with significant research activity). This article describes the evidence regarding patient safety at academic medical centers (AMCs) and the special circumstances of AMCs that create challenges and opportunities for making improvements. While the research on the relative safety of patients in AMCs compared to other types of hospitals is sparse, it seems clear that AMCs in general do not stand out as models of patient safety. AMCs are unique as health care providers because of the multiple consequences of their three missions: patient care, research, and teaching. Aspects of these missions can serve to both enhance an AMC's ability to address safety issues and at the same time create unique and challenging barriers. For example, the research enterprise may distract managers' focus on safety issues but at the same time provide a wealth of highly trained talent for investigating and reducing safety problems. By addressing these challenges, AMCs have the opportunity, even the obligation, to be both the source of new knowledge on health care safety as well as the transmitter of new skills in safe patient care for the health care providers of the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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