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Kaiser Emergency Care Treats Patients Well

January 08, 2002

"Cases Reveal Lapses in Kaiser Emergency Care" (Jan. 2) describes nine medical malpractice cases involving Kaiser Foundation Hospital emergency rooms [decided] in the past seven years--nine cases among more than 10 million patients treated. All of us at Kaiser Permanente wish that number was zero. We acknowledge regretfully that errors in medical judgment and in the delivery of care do sometimes occur. As the Institute of Medicine's report on patient safety and medical errors concluded, "to err is human." The challenge is to learn from and prevent errors--and thus enhance the quality and service provided to patients.

Overall, we want to remind readers that the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan continues to rank at the top or near the top of independent surveys of quality medical care among health plans in California. For example, just last fall the California Department of Managed Health Care released its first-ever survey of the state's HMOs. The Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in Southern California was the only health plan to receive two-star ratings (good) in all five of the department's categories. As a physician and medical director of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, I am proud to be associated with the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.

Oliver Goldsmith MD

Pasadena

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