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Patient Safety and Medical error - Essay Example

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Patient safety in the health care practice emphasizes on the analysis, reporting and prevention of medical errors leading to adverse healthcare events (Wachter, 2007). Until the 1990s, the magnitude and frequency of avoidable harmful patient events was unknown. However in the…
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Patient Safety and Medical Error Patient safety in the health care practice emphasizes on the analysis, reporting and prevention of medical errors leading to adverse healthcare events (Wachter, 2007). Until the 1990s, the magnitude and frequency of avoidable harmful patient events was unknown. However in the 1990s, there were several incidences reported of patients who had been harmed or worse still killed by medical errors. Recognizing that medical error affect approximately 10% of the patients around the world, the world health care referred to patients’ safety as an endemic concern. Safety health care and medical errors has emerged as a powerful healthcare discipline built on the basis of immature scientific framework that is fast developing. An increased access to information regarding the number of cases of medical errors has helped improve this discipline (Hurwitz & Sheikh, 2009). Such improvements include adopting innovative technologies, error reporting systems enhancement, new economic incentives development and application of knowledge gained from business and industry.
The impacts and magnitude of medical errors was unappreciated until in the 1990s when there were several reported incidences in the United States of America. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academy of Sciences published a report ‘Building a Safe Health System’ in 1999 in recognition of the trend of human error in heath care systems. In the report, the IOM urged for a broad national effort including the establishment of a patient safety center, safety programs development in health care institutions, expansion of reporting of adverse effects and urged healthcare purchasers, regulators and professional societies to pay attention to this fact. Within two weeks of the publishing of the report, the president of the United States of America ordered a study to be carried out to establish the feasibility of the implementation of the report’s recommendations. Health Grades, in July 2004, released a study namely ‘Patient safety in American Hospitals’ that showed that there were over 1,000,000 adverse impacts associated with healthcare systems during 2000-2002 which resulted in more than 190,000 deaths per year in US healthcare institutions (Wilson, Runciman, Gibberd, Harrison, Newby & Hamilton, 1995). This experience is much similar to other countries around the world. According to a ten year study in Australia, there were over 17,000 deaths annually that resulted from medical errors, for instance medical dosing error. The Canadian adverse effects study revealed that there were adverse effects in more than 6.9% hospital admissions and 9000-24,000 die per year due to unavoidable medical errors (Baker & Norton 2004).
Medical errors emanate from a number of factors like physician stresses, process of care factors, patient related factors, and physician’s characteristics like lack of prerequisite knowledge. Some of the problems may also result from quality of services and equipments, access to and financing of healthcare (Peters & Peters, 2007). To err is to human and errors will always happen despite the level of care practiced in health care facilities. Physicians, patients and health care staff errors are common in many hospitals and therefore necessary systems must be implemented to prevent or absorb them. Sometimes the errors may be as a result of negligence on the part of the patient or the physician, but others are unavoidable. Most of the errors result from the overly complex processes but are preventable according to Hatlie & Youngberg (2006). To reduce such medical errors, a culture of incidence reporting should be developed that includes clearly distinguishing between blameworthy and blameless errors. Systems should be put in place to absorb a degree of some of the errors and the health care institutions should be dynamic to adapt in emergency situations.
References
Baker G. R. & Norton P. G. (2004). "The Canadian Adverse Events Study: the incidence of adverse events among hospital patients in Canada". Canadian Medical Association Journal 170 (11): 1678–1685.
Hatlie M. J. & Youngberg B.J. (2006), The patient safety handbook, London, Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Hurwitz B. & Sheikh A. (2009), Health Care Errors and Patient Safety, London, John Wiley and Sons.
Peters G. A. & Peters B. J. (2007), Medical error and patient safety: human factors in medicine, London, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis.
Wachter, R. M. (2007), Understanding Patient Safety, New York, McGraw-Hill Professional.
Wilson R. M, Runciman W. B, Gibberd R.W, Harrison B.T, Newby L, Hamilton J.D (November 1995). "The Quality in Australian Health Care Study". Med J Aust. 163 (9): 458–71 Read More
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