Berwick's temper seemed to rise even more when he talked about the political debate over so-called "death panels."
He described as "nonsense, fabricated out of nothing but fear and lies, [the notion that] that some plot is afoot to, literally, kill patients under the guise of end-of-life care. That is hogwash. It is purveyed by cynics; it employs deception; and it destroys hope," he said.
"The truth, of course, is that there are no 'death panels' here, and there never have been. The truth is that, as our society has aged and as we have learned to care well for the chronically ill, many of us face years in the twilight our lives when our health fades and our need for help grows and changes.
Many attendees leaving Berwick's talk said he was inspirational and gave them the energy and courage to push for change in their own organizations.
In coming weeks and months, I hope to describe in greater detail many of the creative sessions I heard about preventing errors and infections and gathering data and transforming culture to drive change. A lot of it may seem pie-in-the-sky right now, but just wait.