The pharmaceutical industry’s contribution to patient safety

There’s a good series of letters to the Wall Street Journal commenting on the June 21 article about how anesthesiologists have dramatically improved patient safety and lowered their own malpractice premiums over the past 20 years. (Heal thyself: Once Seen as Risky, One Group of Doctors Changes Its Ways.” (I commented on the article here.)

A letter from Dr. Arthur Schwartz offered a perspective that was omitted in the article:

Shorter-acting inhalation agents, muscle relaxants, intravenous narcotics and induction agents now permit rapid recovery from anesthesia with fewer side effects. Furthermore, although you credit anesthesia societies for much of this, their contribution was, in fact, negligible.

As the patient safety movement gains momentum, I hope pharmaceutical companies will consider additional ways to develop products that actively enhance patient safety.

July 19, 2005

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