Hospitals and staff admitting to errors can help to educate and prevent similar preventable mistakes from happening in the future. However, in the past many medical errors occurring at hospitals in Middle Tennessee were going unreported. But, now new federal policy is really pushing these mistakes to be out in the open, which in turn could end up leading to an increase in patient safety.
Under this new policy, commercial insurers and Medicare will no longer be paying for hospital bills where an error led to readmission into the hospital, or to an extended patient stay. In turn, this financial incentive is driving more hospitals to admit to their mistakes in order to stop them from repeating.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, over the past several years some of the safety problems included patients suffering from a serious illness going undiagnosed, and people being released before they were honestly and truly ready to care for themselves.
Examples of this would include failure to diagnose a heart attack, and releasing a patient who had attempted to overdose, only to see that same patient go home, take more pills and be readmitted.
By admitting to these medical mistakes, hospitals can also enact certain precautions. For example, in at least one Tennessee hospital, nurses go "In the Zone," which is a quiet place for them to prepare medications. This helps to ensure that patients are receiving not only the correct medication, but also the correct dose.
Other changes that have stemmed from previous medical errors also include color-coding IV and feeding tubes. This ensures that nurses don't accidentally hook up the wrong line to a patient. Additionally, when using tubes, an observer also has to be present to make sure that the right tube is being used.
Overall, these are just some of the changes that have been made. However, now with the new federal policy, there is the possibility that hospitals in Tennessee will continue to enact more safeguards in an attempt to ensure patient safety, and therefore not lose money due to medical errors.