Healthcare workers labor daily to help their patients heal, be as comfortable as possible, and make a positive impact during some of the hardest points in their journey. What would we have done through the COVID pandemic if we didn’t have our healthcare heroes risking their lives every day to care for those that were sick? Our healthcare system plays an important role and providing care and patient safety to those needing treatment for all kinds of ailments.
What if the health care system that you utilize for your family’s care is not up to par? Patient safety has become one of the very top priorities for hospitals and healthcare systems around the world. There are dozens of components that make up excellent healthcare. If one of those mechanisms is found lacking, it can lead to disaster.
Patient Safety Defined
Patient safety can be explained as what hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities do to keep their patients safe and healthy. This is achieved through several safeguards, as well as training to prevent errors and accidents that could harm patients.
Every part of the healthcare system must be involved to achieve true patient safety. This includes but is not limited to the following:
- Medication safety
- Limiting diagnosis errors
- Equipment and device defects
- Lack of communication or miscommunication
- Insufficient education and/or training
The Prevalence of Patient Safety Neglect
We depend on hospitals and clinics to be safe places, but in reality, they can be some of the worst places to be when it comes to the risk of infections or medical errors. While the prevalence of deaths and harm to patients has been controversial for years, the need for increased patient safeguards is widely agreed to be essential. In 2016, a study was publicized in the British Medical Journal stating that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. This is an alarming statistic, for sure!
While not all hospital deaths or injuries are always preventable, a large amount can be prevented and should be prevented if we continue to have a quality, trustworthy healthcare system we can rely on. Even if the number of deaths each year is substantially less than reported in the British Medical Journal, there are still an unacceptable amount of patients experiencing adverse effects or death from avoidable mistakes.
What Can Assist Healthcare Systems in Avoiding Patient Safety Issues?
Patient safety is a serious issue and must be treated as such. Every person that works in healthcare must do their part. You may wonder what your hospital or other healthcare facility is doing to ensure you’re safe when obtaining care. Let’s look at a few patient safety initiatives that almost all are implementing.
1. Making sure patients understand their treatment
You’d think that it would be safe to assume that patients know what to expect when they arrive at a hospital or clinic. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It is essential to make sure that your patients are well-informed about their care. Knowing what is happening and why can be extremely beneficial to patients in long-term care and for successful outcomes of patients.
After a brief explanation of the patient’s treatment, simply asking them to repeat what is going to take place and why can be evidence enough that they understand what will be happening. While this cannot always occur in older or seriously impaired patients, it can be done with family members assisting and helping care for them.
2. Healthcare worker handwashing
If we have learned nothing else throughout the pandemic, it’s how vital handwashing can be in reducing the spread of germs and infections. Proper and frequent handwashing should take place not only with healthcare workers but patients as well. Regular use of hand sanitizer is also encouraged when handwashing is not possible.
3. Improved patient monitoring technology
Every patient has different needs. Just keeping track of medications alone could be a full-time job. Now try doing that for 20 to 100 plus patients! Add in lab work and other diagnostic testing, surgeries, therapy, and more. It can be too much to handle very quickly. This is where patient monitoring technology helps fill the gap.
Physicians and other staff have one place to go to for patient information, and much of that information is just automatically entered in as test results come back, etc. Alarms for monitoring patients themselves help keep nurses alerted to potential emergencies and needs as well. What a benefit this technology has been in increasing patient safety!
4. Medical procedure verification
Regular verification processes in hospitals are a must to avoid some of the biggest procedure errors. Imagine having the wrong surgery done and waking up to realize in horror that there was a terrible error. Hospitals are working hard to avoid such errors by verifying with the patient beforehand about the procedure that they will be having. They also make sure that more than one physician or nurse has verified the procedure as well before it is done. You will see examples of surgical legs getting marked with a big X or other identifying markers to avoid mistakes.
5. Working as a team
A team approach is one of the most beneficial ways that healthcare systems can promote patient safety. If healthcare workers believe that it is not only up to them to keep their patients safe but that everyone is working hard to create a safe environment, employees are more willing to do their part.
Have You Experienced a Medical Error?
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are doing their best to prevent patient safety mistakes. Unfortunately, not all mistakes can be avoided. If you have been the victim of a medical error, Wormington & Bollinger can help. You are not alone in fighting for your right to safe medical care. Give our attorney group a call to learn more about our experience and knowledge and how it can benefit you and your patient safety case today.