From a statement by President Clinton in the White House Rose Garden yesterday:

According to the [Institute of Medicine] study, as many as 98,000 Americans lose their lives each year as a result of preventable medical errors. Up to 7,000 die because of errors in prescribing medicine. And . . . these errors add as much as $29 billion to our medical bills.

But this is about far more than . . . dollars or statistics; it's about the toll that such errors take on people's lives and on their faith in our health care system. . . . We have the finest health care system in the world, the best professionals to deliver that care. But too many families have been the victims of medical errors that are avoidable . . . tragedies . . . that are unacceptable.

Everyone here agrees that our health care system does wonders but first must "do no harm.". . . Ensuring patients' safety is not about fixing blame; it's about fixing problems in an increasingly complex system, about creating a culture of safety and an environment where medical errors are not tolerated. In short, it's about working together to zero in on patients' safety and zero out preventable errors. . . . The . . . report makes clear that a systematic approach to reducing medical errors gives us the best chance of success.

Years ago, we took that approach in aviation, and we have dramatically reduced errors and saved lives. By working together, we can achieve the same goals in the health care industry.