Reducing Hospital Error

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How Much Medical Harm Occurs In The U.S.?
Institute for Healthcare Improvement research, corroborated by academic colleagues, suggests there are between 40 to 50 incidents of medical harm to patients for every 100 admissions. With roughly 37 million hospital admissions per year in the United States, this means that approximately 15 million incidents of medical harm per year in the US, according to IHI.


What Can You Do To Stay Safe In Hospitals?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality advises several simple steps.
  • Be an active member of your health care team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care so you get better results.

  • Make sure all of your doctors know about everything you are taking.At least once a year, bring all of your medicines and supplements with you to your doctor.

  • When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it.
    If you can't read your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.

  • If you have a choice, choose a hospital at which many patients have the procedure or surgery you need. Patients tend to have better results when they are treated in hospitals that have a great deal of experience with their condition.

  • Speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.


  • What Should I Do Before Surgery?
    If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done.
    The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges its members to sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery.


    How Can Hospitals Improve Their Care?
    The Institute for Healthcare Improvement recommends six interventions:
  • Deploy Rapid Response Teams at the first sign of patient decline.
  • Deliver Reliable, Evidence-Based Care for Acute Myocardial Infarction to prevent deaths from heart attack.
  • Prevent Adverse Drug Events (ADEs) by implementing medication reconciliation.
  • Prevent Central Line Infections by implementing a series of interdependent, scientifically grounded steps.
  • Prevent Surgical Site Infections by reliably delivering the correct perioperative antibiotics at the proper time.
  • Prevent Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia by implementing a series of interdependent, scientifically grounded steps.



  • To Learn More About Hospital Care:

    • Click here for resources from the National Patient Safety Foundation and here for more information.

    • You can click here for state reources on patient safety.

    • The Josie King Foundation has information about patient safety programs.

    • The Safe Care Campaign has ways hospitals can stop spreading infections.

    • Melissa McNamara

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