Simple measures to reducing medical errors

There's No Substitute for Experience

Since 19999, when an Institute of Medicine report found that each year approximately 100,000 people died in the U.S. from medical errors, much has been done to reduce the number of doctor errors and medical mistakes leading to death.

When looking at medical errors, in general, some of the most common include how the medical treatment is delivered, inadequate monitoring and a lack of providing antibiotics during surgery to prevent infection. All of these preventable issues can lead to serious complications and deaths among patients.

One way that has been found to reduce these types of errors is patient checklists. These lists act a forced function for doctors and medical staff to check things they might otherwise incorrectly just think they know the answer to. On this checklist can also be hand washing, which is a surprisingly simple hygiene precaution often skipped in the hospital.

However, it doesn't need to stop with checklists, as many hospitals also follow “redundant operations.” This is when the same question is asked multiple times by many different people. For example, before a surgery, doctors, nurses and other medical staff may ask the same patient -- separately -- what their birth day is and which side of the body the operation is supposed to be on. This helps to make sure it is the correct patient and reduces the chance of operating on the wrong side.

Lastly, over the years there has really been a shift in patient-centered care. This means more patients are taking an active role in their health by asking questions and speaking up if something doesn't seem right. It's been found this mindset goes a long way in reducing preventable medical errors.

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