The Economics of Patient Safety: Adopting a Value-based Approach

By John Tingle

The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) have recently published a report on the economics of patient safety.The report is in two main sections, section 1, the cost of failure and section 2, reducing harm effectively and efficiently.

Section 1 focuses on a review of the literature in the area. The reports begins by making the point that health care has always been and continues to be, a risk-laden activity:

“While modern medical sciences can certainly do more, the risks of complication, error and harm are commensurately greater.” (p.9)

The report states that adverse health care events can happen at any point of the patient’s journey and can vary between care settings. Similar causative factors can be attributed to most types of harm.On the world patient safety stage, the report states that despite global efforts to reduce the burden of patient harm in developing countries, the situation does not appear to have changed over the past 15 years. WHO data is cited from 2000 which indicates that two –thirds of all adverse events occurred in low-and middle income countries. The risk of patient death as a result of an adverse event appears to be much higher in developing countries with some estimates suggesting that as many as one in three adverse events result in the patient’s death. The report does suggest some ways forward in avoiding adverse health care events in developing countries. Continue reading

Deborah Stone on ‘The Week in Health Law’ Podcast

By Nicolas Terry and Frank Pasquale

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We are joined by Deborah Stone, Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She is famous for her classic, Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, a magisterial account of goals, problems, and solutions in a wide array of policy conflicts.

Policy Paradox has had four editions over 25 years and has been translated into five languages. As Stone argues in the book, “behind every policy issue lurks a contest over conflicting, though equally plausible, conceptions of the same abstract goal or value.” Recognizing the deep pluralism of values and aims, Stone wisely counsels that “the job of the policy designer…is to understand the rules of the game well enough to know the standard moves and countermoves, and to think about them strategically.”

With this theoretical structure firmly in mind, we discuss the ACA and healthcare in the world of Trump. We also asked Deborah about her article “Caring Communities: What Would it Take?,” a patient-centered, care-focused counter-narrative to technocratic quantification. Grounding present conflicts in a longer-term view of the role of policymakers in a democracy, Stone offers perspective on the future of health equity in a polity where even the basic concept of risk pooling now appears contestable.

The Week in Health Law Podcast from Frank Pasquale and Nicolas Terry is a commuting-length discussion about some of the more thorny issues in Health Law & Policy. Subscribe at iTunes, listen at Stitcher Radio, Tunein and Podbean, or search for The Week in Health Law in your favorite podcast app. Show notes and more are at TWIHL.com. If you have comments, an idea for a show or a topic to discuss you can find us on Twitter @nicolasterry @FrankPasquale @WeekInHealthLaw.