The 1994 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, America’s Health in Transition: Protecting and Improving Quality, highlighted the seriousness and pervasiveness of healthcare error rates and their effect on patient outcomes and morbidity and mortality rates. Then, in 2000, the IOM released the report, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. This IOM report instantly received national attention from policymakers, healthcare providers, and consumers. The IOM report stated, “At least 44,000 people, and perhaps as many as 98,000 people, die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented.” This IOM report caused major ripples throughout the healthcare system and highlighted the need to change how healthcare is delivered. Shockingly, recent research by Makary and Daniel (2016) has found that more than 250,000 deaths each year are the result of errors within healthcare. That means that after heart disease and cancer, patient safety errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States (Makary & Daniel, 2016).
America has some of the best hospitals in the world but it is also the only large, rich country without Universal Healthcare coverage. About half of Americans have their health insurance provided by their employers. Healthcare costs can be financially ruinous for others. In 2016, America spent $10,348 per person on healthcare, roughly twice as much as the average for comparably rich countries. On average, both hospital cost and drug prices can be 60% higher than in Europe. The American Affordable Care Act expanded the health insurance system and cut the number of uninsured people from 44 million to 28 million but still left a gap among people not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, but not rich enough to buy private insurance.