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What are hospitals doing to improve patient safety?: Part 1

More than ten years ago the Institute of Medicine estimated that 100,000 people die in hospitals due to preventable errors every year in the U.S. According to Kaiser Health News, the situation in the country is now worse. In 2010, a government report said that 15,000 Medicare patients were dying every month due to preventable errors. In this way, medical mistakes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

There are many reasons for these ongoing problems. But why haven't hospitals done more to reduce unnecessary death in the last decade? Kaiser Health News notes that hospitals are resistant to change, have not made patient safety a priority and have not made their patient data transparent so that the public can see exactly what is going on.

Some of the initiatives that hospitals around the country are working on include:

  • Using checklists to ensure safety procedures are being followed
  • Reminding doctors and nurses to wash their hands more often
  • Designing equipment that will better prevent errors
  • Improving direct communication between doctors and nurses
  • Converting all patient records to digital records

Hospitals have a long way to go to truly improve patient safety, but hopefully they have begun an intentional process that will actually result in reduced preventable errors and unnecessary deaths. The next post will continue to discuss this issue.

Source: Kaiser Health News, "Doctor, Did You Check Your Checklist?" Bara Vaida, Jan. 30, 2012

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