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Top Patient Safety Concerns

hospital-acquired patient infection

On the heels of 2022 Patient Safety Awareness Week, established by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, another patient safety organization released its list of top patient safety concerns for 2022.

IHI, a nonprofit group that for 30 years has focused on making healthcare safer, marked March 13-19 as 2022 Patient Safety Awareness Week, noting that as many as 400,000 U.S. patients die every year from a preventable medical error.

Identifying potential errors is the first step in preventing them.  ECRI, another organization whose mission is to make healthcare safer, recently published its “Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns” for this year.

Among the criteria ECRI used in compiling its medical error list were:

·         How serious is the potential patient harm

·         How often does it occur

·         How many patients potentially are harmed

Commonly Occurring Medical Errors

ECRI publishes this list annually.  The 2022 edition includes several medical errors found repeatedly in previous lists:

·         Medication errors

·         Diagnostic errors

·         Unclean medical devices

·         Poor patient care coordination

Staffing shortages tops ECRI’s 2022 list. The organization notes this was a considerable concern before the pandemic. It projects a growing, dangerous shortfall of a wide variety of healthcare workers, including:

·         Physicians

·         Nurses

·         Respiratory therapists

·         Pharmacists

These shortages are well known.  Hospital administrators should plan accordingly to protect patients from any serious harm resulting from healthcare provider shortfalls. ECRI identifies developing flexible action plans and flexible staffing models as two such actions they should take.

Misdiagnoses from Cognitive Bias

Misdiagnosis is a common medical error. A wrong diagnosis, a missed diagnosis, or a delayed diagnosis can severely harm a patient when physicians fail to treat a serious condition or provide the wrong treatment.

ECRI includes diagnostic errors resulting from cognitive biases as one of its top 2022 patient safety concerns.

Cognitive bias – how one collects, views and interprets information – can dramatically alter diagnostic conclusions.

To prevent resulting serious diagnostic errors, ECRI suggests healthcare facilities first recognize that cognitive biases that lead to misdiagnoses exist, and then develop procedures and training to overcome them.

Hospital-acquired infections are another serious preventable error. The ECRI says that pneumonia is the most common hospital-acquired infection, and it can lead to patient deaths. It placed non-ventilator healthcare-related pneumonia on its 2022 list of patient concerns, relating that such errors are greatly underreported.

ECRI reports that this type of preventable, hospital-acquired pneumonia has a patient death rate as high as 30%.

ECRI recommends hospitals improve their patient hand-off communication and patient discharge plans to help deter non-ventilated hospital-acquired pneumonia.

Preventable medical errors threaten the lives of patients and their families. Those who make medical errors by ignoring established protocols and procedures should be held accountable for any catastrophic consequences.

If you believe you or a loved one was a victim of a serious medical error, speak with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

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

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog April 12, 2022