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 in 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.

Changing Hospital Safety Culture

Makary's suggestions for improving patient safety and reducing medical errors don't just stop there. He also wants to see the entire culture of safety change at hospitals.

What Makary means by a change of culture is for all medical staff to feel empowered enough to speak up when they see something wrong. For example, if a nurse notices that a surgery is about to be done on the wrong body part, he or she would feel confident enough to speak up to the surgeon without having to fear repercussions.

Along the same lines, if it's known a surgeon -- even one with a good reputation -- frequently makes mistakes and has a high patient rate of readmission due to complications, those on staff would feel comfortable enough to talk to supervisors about their concerns.

Lastly, Makray says when it comes to patient safety, teamwork among those working at the hospital is important. For at hospitals where staff reports a good level of teamwork, the rate of infection is typically less and patients seem to be overall more satisfied with their care.

For a free medical malpractice case review, feel free to contact the Nashville medical malpractice attorneys at Kinnard, Clayton & Beveridge at (615) 933-2893.

Categories: Medical Malpractice
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