According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) which has been on the forefront in undertaking research studies, pertaining to the prevalence of medical errors; systemic flaws are largely to be blamed for the high number of medical errors (BMJ Publishing Group Ltd 2011). The Hastings centre also shares the same sentiments when they state that “Many errors can be traced to flaws in complex systems of healthcare delivery, not flaws in individual performance” (The Hastings centre 2011, 5). These revelations come amid increased blame on healthcare workers for their apparent neglect of safe healthcare practices. IOM gives an example of poor communication between healthcare providers as one of the main problems associated with systemic flaws which consequently lead to medical errors. Because of this reason, the institute claims that focusing less on individuals and more on systems is likely to reduce the prevalence of medical errors.
This is one method through which people can bestow their trust again on the healthcare system and it is also a platform through which subsequent reforms can be done. One of such reforms is the importance of accountability when handling medical errors. The element of accountability deals in the restructuring of responsibility for medical mistakes and shifts the blame from individuals to rules, procedures and policies (The Hastings centre 2011). This therefore means that justice will be achieved for the injured people and statistics obtained from the process can also be utilized to further improve the system (in prevention of future errors). The entire essence of changing or reinforcing accountability standards is aimed at replacing existing health rules, procedures and policies to be more ethically conscious so that there is a culture of honesty regarding patient safety and a culture that upholds the compensation of patients when medical errors occur.
From this stand point; accounting gives the issue of medical errors the attention it deserves and relieves the burden which medical errors place on patients. In the same manner, it also reduces the burden medical errors have on medical practitioners. The Hastings centre acknowledges that “Accountability stands as an important reminder that our moral choices, rather than simply legal, professional or economic, should guide our public policies in this crucial area” (The Hastings centre 2011, 5). This insight is completely factual because accountability approaches medical errors from a holistic point of view; in terms of prevention and control. The Hastings centre also explains that accountability helps solve the problem of a high prevalence of medical errors “From compelling firsthand accounts of tragedy wrought by medical error to efforts to grapple with professional, institutional, systemic, cultural, and societal factors in mistake causation and prevention, this volume richly repays a careful read” (The Hastings centre 2011, 5).