Continuing Education Meets the Learning Organization: The Challenge of a Systems Approach to Patient Safety

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Abstract

Since the release of the report of the Institute of Medicine on medical errors and patient safety in November 1999, health policy makers and health care leaders in several nations have sought solutions that will improve the safety of health care. This attention to patient safety has highlighted the importance of a learning approach and a systems approach to quality measurement and improvement. Balanced with the need for public disclosure of performance, confidential reporting with feedback is one of the prime ways that nations such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia have approached this challenge. In the United States, the Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force has convened federal agencies that are involved in health care quality improvement for a coordinated initiative. Based on an investment in a strong research foundation in health care quality measurement and improvement, there are eight key lessons for continuing education if it is to parlay the interest in patient safety into enhanced continuing education and quality improvement in learning health care systems. The themes for these lessons are (1) informatics for information, (2) guidelines as learning tools, (3) learning from opinion leaders, (4) learning from the patient, (5) decision support systems, (6) the team learning together, (7) learning organizations, and (8) just-in-time and point-of care delivery.

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