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What are hospitals doing to improve patient safety?: Part 3

As discussed in the previous post, far too many preventable medical errors continue to occur every day in hospitals across the country, causing great and unnecessary harm to patients. One problem is that the hierarchical culture of hospitals creates an environment where the doctor is the leader and overconfident that he or she won't make mistakes, rather than having a collaborative environment where anyone could look for and point out a potential medical error.

Kaiser Health News notes that at least one advocate for public health has been touring the country giving talks to doctors to help them see that teamwork and collaboration can improve patient safety. If hospitals were more insistent that people collaborate and were more transparent about patient safety records, it might make a difference in patient health.

Leading minds in health care safety improvement have said that sometimes the most impactful changes can be the simplest. As technology becomes more and more complex, a simple checklist may be the most important tool a physician has for patient safety and care.

Because everyday tasks can easily become mundane and easy to do or to forget, a simple checklist makes sure that doctors and nurses in high-pressure environments do not need to rely on memory to make sure they did everything needed.

This is something that has been used in aviation. In addition, assisting pilots are encouraged to point out any error they see and are supposed to help with checklists. Kaiser Health News notes that this "wisdom in the group" mentality may also greatly improve safety in hospitals if it is put into practice.

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

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