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What can hospitals do to be safer?

People go to hospitals in the hopes of getting better. Unfortunately, too many people suffer or even die due to preventable acts of negligence by doctors or hospital staff. A groundbreaking study by two Johns Hopkins physicians claims that medical errors kill more than 250,000 people each year.

Some of these mistakes may be a result of a lack of skill or poor training. Many other errors aren't necessarily the fault of one person, but are instead a result of poor processes. Reviewing and changing certain hospital processes could lead to better patient outcomes.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal, titled How to Make Hospitals Less Deadly, discusses five key improvements hospitals could make. They are:

  • Manage doctor and shift transitions more effectively: Miscommunications between doctors when one leaves and another arrives is a major source of error, according to the Joint Commission, a group that accredits hospitals. By structuring these transitions in a more orderly fashion, hospitals can minimize risk to patients.
  • Put pharmacists in patient areas: A 2001 study showed that placing pharmacists in with patients dramatically reduced fatal and harmful medication errors. Simply, pharmacists fully under the potential issues involved when prescribing drugs. When pharmacists work in concert with physicians, it can reduce the likelihood and severity of medication errors.
  • Follow CDC guidelines to limit infection risks: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created guidelines for care providers to follow after an outbreak of infectious disease. If hospitals followed these guidelines at all times, it could dramatically cut down on the numbers of people who suffer hospital infections.
  • Enlisting pathologists and radiologists when making diagnoses: By working closely with other medical professionals, such as pathologists and radiologists, doctors can make fully informed, more accurate diagnoses.
  • Update electronic health records: Despite federal funding to do enhance electronic recordkeeping abilities, the vast majority of hospitals and clinics are able to share their data with other organizations. Making these records more portable could have major benefits to patients.

Decreasing the number of preventable medical errors will not be simple, and will require a sustained effort on the part of many.

If you have been injured by a medical professional's negligence, you have the right to bring a claim. For decades, people across Delaware have turned to Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor.

Source: How to Make Hospitals Less Deadly, by James B. Lieber, The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2016

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