The Institute of Medicine's report To Err Is Human described the alarming prevalence of medical errors and recommended a range of activities to improve patient safety. Three general mechanisms for stimulating hospitals to reduce medical errors are professionalism, regulation, and market forces. Although some believe that market forces are becoming more important, we found that a quasi-regulatory organization (the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) has been the primary driver of hospitals' patient-safety initiatives. Professional and market initiatives have also facilitated improvement, but hospitals report that these have had less impact to date.
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