How to Make Hospitals Less Deadly

An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal examines the alarming death toll in American hospitals as a result of preventable shortcomings in the health care system.

Structured as a brief list detailing “how to make hospitals safer,” the article examines five ways in which American hospitals are currently failing to adequately meet patients’ needs—exposing the most troublesome areas for fatal medical error—and offers solutions for how hospitals can reduce the number of deaths by medical error made each year (estimated at between 210,000 and 440,000 in 2013):

1.) Adopt Structured Handoffs

• Two-thirds of fatal medical error is caused by miscommunications during staff shift changes. A 2014 study found that structured handoffs—categorizing illness severity, medical actions, and crisis contingency planning—could curb these errors by as much as 30%.

2.) Bring in the Pharmacists

• According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, erroneous medication orders by prescribing doctors kill thousands of Americans each year. A 2001 study found that putting pharmacists in patient areas in American hospitals decreased prescribing errors by 45%, and cut fatal errors by 94%.

3.) Get Serious About Infection

• According to the CDC, approximately 700,000 patients become infected while hospitalized in American hospitals each year, resulting in 75,000 deaths. At present, CDC guidelines for disinfecting surgical tools and devices only become mandatory in the event of a major outbreak.

4.) Fight Diagnostic Error

• The article suggests that the ever-expanding universe of medical knowledge is too much for doctors to navigate and remain updated on alone. As such, the article suggests encouraging physicians to bring pathologists and radiologists into the fold to ensure that they aren’t misdiagnosing, over-diagnosing, or only partially diagnosing their patients’ maladies.

5.) Make Electronic Health Records Interoperable

• According to the federal government, only 14% of clinicians share data with doctors beyond their care organizations—an act that jeopardizes continuity of care and ensuring accurate diagnoses. Congress has already passed legislation directing interoperability of all patient medical records within four years, but the need for universal access to records among a patient’s myriad providers is immediate.

If you or a loved one has been injured or disabled by a medical malpractice, the first step in effective treatment is to contact your physician immediately. And if you or a loved one needs an aggressive, yet compassionate and caring medical malpractice attorney, contact the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein today.

We partner with highly rated medical malpractice attorneys who work closely with our law firm to help get our clients the justice they deserve. By joining resources and experience, together we know how to hold medical professionals and their insurance companies responsible.

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