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Patient Safety Awareness Week

It doesn’t take a significant medical error to cost a patient their life. According to a study by Johns Hopkins Medicine, nearly 10 percent of fatalities in the United States are caused by preventable medical errors, between 250,000 to 440,000 lives lost every year. Millions of other patients experience a range of serious and life-threatening injuries, most of which medical safety protocols should have prevented. 

Healthcare providers and medical facilities have a responsibility to protect and heal their patients, not cause them more harm. From March 8 to March 14, safety organizations around the country will be observing National Patient Safety Awareness Week. This is the perfect time to grow awareness around the topic of patient safety in your community and to inspire improvements regarding the quality of care in your local medical facilities. Here’s the information you need to know to help get you started: 

Top 5 Medical Errors 

There are millions of medical errors that can occur on any given day, most of which have safety protocols to prevent them in the first place. Some medical errors are known for causing more harm to patients than others. According to U.S. News & World Reports, these are the top 5 preventable medical errors most commonly reported in the industry: 

– Medication Errors: Over 1.5 million people suffer from the negative effects of medication errors each year. These errors include giving a patient the wrong drug, wrong dose, or giving a patient medication or a combination of medications that cause a known adverse reaction.

– Too Many Blood Transfusions: Blood transfusions increase a person’s risk for infections. The more transfusions that a patient receives, the higher their risk for complications. Nearly 60 percent of blood transfusions globally are deemed “inappropriate,” and sometimes, unnecessary. 

– Too Much Oxygen for Babies: Premature babies often receive oxygen until they are healthy enough to leave the hospital. But oxygen overdoses have become too common and can lead to long-lasting complications such as blindness. 


– Infections (Healthcare-Associated): At least 1 in every 25 patients in the hospital contracts a preventable infection that could have life-threatening consequences. Healthcare-associated infections can be reduced by practicing basic safety methods such as handwashing, wearing protective gear, and proper sterilization. Sadly, these steps don’t always occur.

 – Infections (Central Lines): Tubes of medicine and fluids can be breeding grounds for bacteria. Hospitals that do not practice care in this area risk the possibility of causing serious infections that can rapidly spread throughout the body, such as sepsis.

Hospital-Acquired Injuries

Most hospital-acquired injuries are a result of patient negligence. The Leapfrog Group finds pressure ulcers and traumatic injuries to be the most common when medical professionals neglect to provide quality care:

 – Pressure Ulcers: These injuries, also referred to as “bedsores,” occur when patients are left in one position for too long. Pressure ulcers can arise when a patient is lying or sitting in a bed, wheelchair, or other resting surfaces in a medical facility. Ulcers that are left untreated for too long can cause serious pain, infection, and a prolonged hospital stay. In severe cases, amputations and deaths have been reported as a result.

– Traumatic Injuries: Patients who slip and fall are often unattended by staff or left without fall protection equipment. Falls can result in broken bones, crushing injuries, dislocations, and burns. These injuries can also lead to prolonged hospital stays, which increases a patient’s risk for further complications.

What’s Causing Errors

Medical institutions appear to run more smoothly than they do. Health experts have found significant flaws in how some of these facilities are run that put patients at risk before they walk in the door. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (N.C.B.I.) highlights the following risk factors that can lead to medical errors: 

– Inadequate policies to prevent errors. 

– Communication problems between staff and patients. 
– Poor information flow between staff.

– Human error (distractions, poor documentation, mislabeling) 

– Technical failures of equipment and programs.

 – Infective staffing patterns and workflow.

– Errors in patient charts and records. 

– Lack of organizational transfer of knowledge.


– Doctor and nurse fatigue and burnout.

Medical errors occur most often due to lack of oversight, ineffective policies, or utter negligence. Hospitals and medical centers are responsible for evaluating their facilities to reduce preventable harm to patients. But sometimes, it takes the strong voice of the community to ensure that facilities are held accountable for their care. 

Get Involved!

Everyone is a patient at some point in their life. Therefore, it’s up to all of us to do our part in advocating for safer medical practices and better quality of care. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement makes the following suggestions for how you can get involved:
– Take the Pledge: Take the pledge to reduce harm in the health care system to the best of your ability. Each of us is capable of inspiring change in our own way. Start by choosing the pledge for healthcare providers or consumers.

– Join Together: Join other health and safety advocates in your community by creating a local initiative or organization. Organizations that support Patient Safety Awareness Week serve as a model to others and help on how to advocate for better health practices. The more people who get involved, the larger pool of resources you will have to make a real difference.

– Recognize Safety Advocates: If you work in a healthcare facility, highlight individuals who go above and beyond what it takes to prevent medical errors on the job. Encourage these employees to become leaders and inspire others to prioritize patient safety in similar ways. 

– Ask the Patients: Medical facilities can get involved during Patient Safety Week by turning to their patients for advice. Sometimes, the most obvious medical errors are the ones only patients can see. Help give them a voice this week and ask for feedback.

– Raise Social Awareness: Spread your message where the majority of the world is looking the most— social media! Use hashtags such as #PSAW20 to share facts, resources, and stories to inspire others to get involved.

NYC Medical Malpractice Lawyers

There is no excuse for medical errors when protocols are set in place to prevent them. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or illness due to medical negligence, our winning team of medical malpractice lawyers is here to fight for your rights. The law firm of Pazer, Epstein, Jaffe & Fein has been successfully advocating for NYC patients for over 60 years. Contact us for a free consultation to review your case and explore your options for justice.

Sources

“Study Suggests Medical Errors Now Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. (Retrieved March 11, 2020) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/study_suggests_medical_errors_now_third_leading_cause_of_death_in_the_us

Medaris Miller, Anna. “5 Common Preventable Medical Errors.” U.S. News & World Reports. (Retrieved March 11, 2020) https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/slideshows/5-common-preventable-medical-errors

“Hospital-Acquired Injuries.” The Leapfrog Group. (Retrieved March 11, 2020) https://www.leapfroggroup.org/ratings-reports/hospital-acquired-injuries

Carver, Niki. “Medical Error.” NCBI. (Retrieved March 11, 2020) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430763/

“Patient Safety Awareness Week.” Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (Retrieved March 11, 2020) http://www.ihi.org/Engage/Initiatives/Patient-Safety-Awareness-Week/Pages/Get-Involved.aspx