How to Prevent Common Medical Errors

Discussions about how to prevent medical errors are common, but a new piece in the Wall Street Journal which outlines specific steps to reduce the risk of medical errors is generating quite a bit of buzz, because it was written by a prominent Johns Hopkins doctor.  In the piece titled How to Stop Hospitals from Killing Us, Marty Makary provides a ringside view of the frequency with which medical errors occur in American hospitals.

These errors include everything from wrong site surgeries to surgical instruments left behind in a patient’s body. Dr. McCarty recommends 5 steps to prevent these errors.

Open Access to Safety Information

Public reporting of medical errors and free and public access to such data is important in enhancing patient safety.  It has been confirmed that hospitals are more likely to invest in error prevention strategies when they are required to report their error and adverse event data.

Developing Patient Safety Culture

The culture in most hospitals is designed in a hierarchical manner, with doctors at the top of the scale.  Nurses are not encouraged to speak out about errors when they see them.  The fact is that medical errors are normally spotted by nurses.  However, in far too many hospitals, nurses are too afraid to speak up.  That culture of absolute deference to doctors needs to change, in order to reduce the risk of errors.

Camera Recordings

When you have recordings of surgical procedures, it no tonly serves as a record for future doctors at the hospital, but also helps supervisors in the hospital check the thoroughness of the surgeries performed in the hospital.

Open Notes

More medical errors could be prevented if patients are given access to a doctor’s patient notes. In many hospitals, doctors and patients are sharing online access to patient notes with very successful results.

More Discussion of Medical Errors

Currently, patients who have suffered injuries due to medical malpractice are prohibited from complaining against the doctor when they reach a settlement.  That culture should change to encourage more discussion about medical mistakes.

Posted in Medical Malpractice Cases

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