Over 10% of patients are harmed while receiving medical care, and half of the injuries they experience are because of preventable errors. Some mistakes can lead to very serious injury or even death, and the consequences can be distressing for both patients and families. While support is available to help patients cope after personal injury, healthcare organizations continue to work towards reducing the number of injuries and deaths due to medical malpractice. By recognizing errors, learning from medical mistakes, and finding ways to minimize them, patient safety can be significantly enhanced.
Dealing With Preventable Deaths In Hospital
While analysis of data on preventable deaths varies, at least 22,000 people die unnecessarily in hospital every year. Common causes of preventable death in hospital include errors in administering medication, mistakes made during surgery, and negligence during pregnancy and childbirth. Although it can be challenging, filing a wrongful death claim after the loss of a loved one can help to alleviate emotional trauma, as well as compensate for financial losses. In addition, highlighting medical malpractice in this way compels hospitals to take steps towards preventing similar mistakes in the future, so improving patient safety in the long-term.
Avoiding Mistakes With Medication
One of the most common causes of harm to patients involves mistakes with the prescription and administration of medication. Every year in the US, up to 9,000 people die because of medication errors, and thousands more patients experience adverse reactions and complications. Mistakes in drug labeling and dosing are also a common cause of harm during surgery, when medical staff are under particular pressure. One study at Massachusetts General found that medication errors or adverse drug events were recorded during half of the operations that took place there. To address the issue, it is essential that pharmacists, and indeed all medical staff, take the time to check medications thoroughly, verify any unclear information on prescriptions, and ensure that patients understand how to take the drugs properly.
Preventing Unnecessary Injury In Childbirth
According to the CDC, more than 50% of deaths in pregnancy and childbirth are preventable, and so too are a third of birth injuries. One of the common causes of these preventable deaths and injuries is poor communication, both within the team of healthcare professionals responsible for the birth, and with the mother. If the birthing team practices what to do in common emergency situations, clearly outlines the role of each practitioner, and shares information about the patient, the risks to both mother and baby can be reduced. In addition, developing a good relationship with the mother can help to lower her levels of anxiety during what can be a very challenging time.
While reports on the number of preventable injuries and deaths in healthcare are worrying, they serve to highlight areas of care that need improvement. Forcing hospitals to admit errors, address the issues involved, and learn from their mistakes could result in better healthcare for patients in the long-term.