Now is the time for medical communities everywhere to examine existing processes critically, pursue thoughtful advances in how we deliver care, and promote a culture that engages staff in the improvement process. Taking care of patients is not only about the therapies we provide but also having the most effective care delivery systems possible. By that metric, American health care still has significant room to grow.
We live in a world where as many as 440,000 Americans die each year because of preventable medical mistakes. With Prop 46, California voters can do what the politicians and the status-quo crowd won't: Nudge our healthcare system toward safer practices, deter doctor substance abuse and hold negligent physicians accountable.
Physicians and their patients don't have failsafe access to the medical information they need when they need it. And researchers, ready and waiting to solve the medical challenges of today, simply cannot turn the trove of data the government is sitting on into the healthcare advancements of tomorrow.
Mistakes in health care are much more complex. Most errors result from multifaceted problems such as poor communication, inadequate staffing of nurses, or records and charting that is not up to date with technology. The answer is for each person as a consumer to take responsibility for his or her own health.