Part 1: Steps to preventing medical errors

Posted By Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge || Sep 27, 2012

Did you know U.S. surgeons operate on the wrong body part roughly 40 times a week? Multiple that by 52 weeks and that's 2,080 wrong body part surgeries a year. But, when it comes to medical mistakes, it doesn't stop with just surgical errors. In fact, it's estimated that 25 percent of those hospitalized will be injured by a medical mistake.

Of course these are rather frightening statistics to even think about. But the truth is that it does not need to be this way. Rather, technology and a change to the culture of safety can go a long way in preventing medical errors.

In terms of technology, Marty Makary, who is a surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, recommends a level of transparency for patients that will encourage hospitals to take certain steps to cut back on the number of errors.

His recommendation is for each hospital in the U.S. to have a dashboard where information related to infection rates, the number of patients who are readmitted, surgical errors and complications, and patient satisfaction scores are posted. This way, just like how people read reviews for restaurants online before choosing where to have dinner, patients can read up on hospitals before deciding where to go. The idea is this will encourage those with low performance and satisfaction to take better care to improve their overall scores.

In addition to an informational dashboard, letting patients access their medical notes can also go a long way in preventing needless complications. For example, let's say a doctor mishears a patient and writes down the incorrect dosage of blood pressure medication a patient is taking. By being able to access these notes, the patient can notice the mistake and clear up any discrepancies.

Of course these are just some ideas to improve patient care. In our next post we will focus on the culture of safety in hospitals and what can be changed in order to better protect patients from medical errors.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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