What Should Hospitals Do to Prevent Fatal Medical Errors?

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A new partner has publicly joined the movement to end preventable medical errors that lead to the deaths of hospital patients.

In a news release distributed on November 8, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists announced it is partnering with the Patient Safety Movement Foundation to “eliminate preventable patient deaths in hospitals, a leading cause of death and injury to people across the globe.”

The release also notes that preventable medical harm kills more people in the United States than car accidents, AIDS, and diabetes combined, and ranks as the third leading cause of death in this country.

The AANA is comprised of 54,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists.  According to the organization, its members are the primary providers of anesthesia care in America’s rural areas.  The Patient Safety Movement Foundation is a nonprofit of various medical officials and professionals focused on eliminating preventable hospital patient deaths.

In its newly announced efforts, the AANA will be promoting within its organization a series of patient safety measures advocated by the PSMF, known as “Actionable Patient Safety Solutions.” This is a set of challenges to patient safety as seen by the group, as well as numerous steps to be taken by healthcare providers to eliminate patient deaths from preventable mistakes made in hospitals.

Errors Caused by Lack of Hospital Concern with Patient Safety

The challenges call for hospitals to instill a culture of patient safety and spotlight serious medical errors that occur when a strong culture is lacking within a hospital, including:

It characterizes a hospital’s culture of patient safety as:

  • Healthcare providers who act to promote patient safety even when authority figures are not present
  • Hospital procedures that are built on a recognized conviction to safe medical treatment
  • A workplace that promotes these convictions to patient safety

The PSMF calls for a top-down commitment for hospitals to build a culture of patient safety.  Hospital administrators, according the organization, should encourage accountability for medical errors and promote transparency throughout a facility as well.

For example, hospital leadership should eliminate intimidation that might limit reporting of medical care mistakes and encourage staff – and patients – to speak up when they have patient harm concerns.

Fatal Medication Errors Made in Hospitals

In terms of medication errors made in hospitals, the PSMF organizes them into five types:

  • Wrong drug given to patient
  • Wrong drug dosage given to patient
  • Medication given to wrong patient
  • Using wrong route when administering medication
  • Wrong documentation of medicine

What should hospitals do to prevent serious medical errors?  The PSMF again points to hospital leadership to establish protocols that doctors and nurses should follow when administering medications.

These steps to reduce medication errors made in hospitals include:

  • Establishing a universal checklist when giving drugs to patients
  • Checking on any changes in a patient’s condition that may affect drug administration, such as in weight or renal and liver function
  • Using bar codes to properly identify medications

Hospital-acquired infections often can turn deadly - but are highly preventable. Fatal infections patients suffer in hospitals are typically caused by poor hand hygiene by hospital care staff, according to the PSMF.

To address this, hospital leadership should continually remind medical care providers of the importance of proper and consistent hand-washing. Other expressed remedies to prevent hospital-acquired infections:

  • Mandatory training for new hires and once-a-year retraining on handy hygiene
  • Have soap and alcohol-based hand rubs available in areas close to patient care
  • Have a team of nurses, doctors and administrators responsible for ensuring hand hygiene protocols are followed

While fatal medical errors are made by healthcare staff such as doctors and nurses, the PMSF is clear on holding hospital management accountable for developing and implementing facility wide plans to prevent them in the first place.

If you had a loved one die unexpectedly during a hospital stay, an avoidable medical error may have been the cause.  A medical malpractice attorney can investigate on your behalf to uncover the error and all who should be held responsible for it.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Articles November 26, 2019

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