While many hospitals are improving when it comes to patient safety, numerous threats continue to linger for patients at hospitals across the United States.
According to Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality, here are some of the most important patient safety issues that are being closely monitored in 2016 – issues that may give rise to medical malpractice claims:
- Medication Errors. Each year, about 5 percent of patients are affected by adverse drug events. As reported in a prior blog post, a study recently conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital reveals that medication errors are made in nearly half of all surgeries. The most frequent mistakes involve labeling, incorrect dosage, failing to treat a problem indicated by a patient’s vital signs, and documentation errors.
- Diagnostic Errors. According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, diagnostic errors account for 6 to 17 percent of hospital adverse events and roughly 10 percent of patient deaths. These can include misinterpretations by radiologists and failure to timely and properly perform diagnostic tests.
- Errors Related to Patient Discharge Practices. When a patient is discharged from the hospital, it is a critical moment in that patient’s care. Studies show that about 20 percent of patients have an adverse event within three weeks of being discharged, and many of these events could have been prevented. This has become particularly troublesome for patients who are hastily transferred from the hospital to skilled nursing care facilities and nursing homes.
- Hospital Facility Safety & Hospital Infections. Facility and maintenance problems also put patients’ safety at risk, chief of which are hospital infections. Legionnaires’ disease remains an ongoing concern, as Legionella outbreaks are commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems. Also, there are more than one million cases of sepsis each year, the ninth leading cause of disease-related deaths. To help ensure patient safety, various entities from the health care, construction, and engineering industries have created a task force to create uniform guidelines for the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of operating rooms, sterile processing departments, and endoscope procedure rooms.
- Surgical Infections & Contaminated Medical Devices. During the past year, concerns over medical scopes and their link to infections have resurfaced, forcing health care providers to modify their best practices to prevent surgical infections and similar threats. Hospitals are now emphasizing the importance of using the right tools and following proper protocol. Meanwhile, some hospitals have also begun culturing scopes and checking for bacteria.