Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, after chronic health issues such as cardiac diseases and cancer. With the constant and increased demand for healthcare, it has become significant to streamline medical operations and reduce errors in the system. Quality patient care and the improved customer experience in healthcare settings can be achieved by understanding the causes behind preventable medical errors.
Healthcare providers can save patients by eliminating or decreasing these errors. These errors can be as simple as misdiagnosis, wrong prescription, and documentation.
Here are the five preventable medical errors and ways to remedy them.
Medication errors are the most common medical errors that put patients’ lives at risk. These errors may happen when a physician prescribes the wrong medication or dose, a nurse administers the wrong medication, or a pharmacist misreads the prescriptions. Sometimes, patients are allergic to certain substances. Instead of getting better, they may develop side effects from certain medications.
Patients can also make medication errors while administering medication. For instance, taking pills once is simple, but taking a combination of pills at a time or at different times can become problematic. Similarly, some medicines have optimal effects at certain times of the day, and patients cannot take them at any time. Underdose and overdose can also worsen health complications.
To eliminate medication errors, use digital tools such as a healthcare scanner to implement proper and effective medication administration processes. Technology is essential to bridge the gap between patient safety and quality service delivery.
Taking expired medicine can also prove fatal to the life of patients. However, these errors are preventable if you inform your physician about your other medications, including supplements, over-the-counter drugs, etc. Inform your doctor about allergies or side effects of medications you may have felt before. Make sure you can read the prescribed medicine and understand its correct dose at the designated time. Discuss your concerns and ask for additional information to avoid the harmful effects of medication caused by misunderstanding.
Sometimes, physicians misdiagnose, fail to diagnose, or take time to diagnose correctly. This happens when doctors may misunderstand the symptoms of the disease, fail to conduct the due tests, or interpret the results. Diagnostic errors are common in health practices and are often caused by insufficient insurance coverage. Some doctors intentionally don’t ask patients to get diagnostic tests as their insurance doesn’t cover the costs. Furthermore, diagnostic errors happen when a sample is tested through a defective or unsterilized device. In some cases, samples may be swapped or become contaminated.
Hospitals and healthcare operators must implement multiple patient safety protocols for diagnosis and prescription to overcome diagnostic errors. If one medical expert working in one area misses something, others may identify the real problem, prescribe the medication, and suggest the procedures accordingly.
Surgical errors may occur when a surgeon operates on the wrong patient with the same name or at an incorrect site. It also may include the wrong type of surgery, lack of monitoring after the surgery, and leaving medical equipment like surgical blades or scissors in the patients. These errors are drastic and may lead to life-threatening infections in patients.
Before going ahead with a surgical procedure, make sure you discuss everything with your doctor and ensure that all medical experts are on the same page. It is not common to perform surgery on the wrong site. Still, if you have a chance, select the hospital where quality patient care is delivered while following safety protocols.
Hospitals must ensure that medical staff dictates and signs medical records and notes within the specified time of the medical procedure to provide quality care after the surgery.
Documentation and Reporting Errors
When a patient is admitted to the hospital, excessive workload and a staff shortage can result in certain documentation errors. Sometimes, a lack of protocols and procedures makes the situation more challenging. In some cases, attendants fail to obtain informed consent from patients. It not only creates problems for patients but also for the entire healthcare setup, especially the physician and surgeon directly involved in the treatment process. The hospital staff must take patients into confidence before the medical procedure, discuss all treatment options in detail, and get the signed consent form.
When medical staff dealing with the patients fail to communicate, reporting errors occur. Lack of communication leads to reporting errors and adversely affects the patients. As a result, patients may receive wrong or no treatment at all.
Remedies for documentation and reporting errors start from effective policy making and its successful implementation. There must be a proper documentation procedure to note all patient information, such as diagnosis, medication, and other ongoing treatments for other caregivers. Healthcare organizations must conduct staff training to ensure proper documentation to avoid minor medical errors. A careful monitoring system and shift-to-shift review can reduce documentation and reporting errors.
Hospital staff directly deal with patients and often develop infections and harmful occupational diseases if they do not follow proper safety protocols. Such negligence comes under occupational errors, where medical staff fail to sanitize and clean the workplace.
Infections caused by lack of cleanliness often result in a chronic condition called sepsis. In addition, when medical staff fails to wear safety equipment such as gloves and face masks or don’t wash hands, it puts their and patients’ lives in danger. To prevent occupational errors, wash or sanitize hands, and wear safety gadgets while monitoring patients. Moreover, take necessary measures while caring for patients infected with transmittable diseases.
No doubt, errors are part of human life, but a person must take responsibility to overcome these mistakes. If a person fails to notice and identify the pattern of mistakes, the hospital’s overall performance becomes compromised. Technology has transformed many healthcare operations, from data entry to medical administration, but there is still room for improvement. Healthcare organizations must come forward to identify the loopholes in the system and adopt innovative solutions to optimize their performance.
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