Malpractice, Patient Safety

5 Patient Safety Blunders Healthcare Staff Must Avoid

Editor’s note – This is an opinion piece about patient safety errors that healthcare staff need to avoid.

By Katherine Rundell (Medical Writer)

Patient safety outcomes should be the first priority in healthcare facilities. Unfortunately, many mistakes such as medication errors, patient mix ups, and data management failures lead to deaths and prolonged illness in patients every year – but with vigilance and proper systems in place, many of these errors can be avoided. The first step is education, so read on to discover the five safety mistakes healthcare staff need to avoid.

Medication Errors

Providing patients with the wrong medication can have catastrophic consequences, and yet this is a common mistake in healthcare facilities with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating medication error causes at least one death every day. Medication mix ups are easy when clinicians are overworked, providing countless patients with complex cocktails of medication each day.

Medication errors include mixing up patients to provide the wrong medication completely or errors in dosage that stem from mathematical mistakes. Eliminating medication errors can be taken on systematically by providing a medication safety officer to oversee your medication procedures.

HAI (Hospital Acquired Infection)

When people are suffering they turn to hospitals and healthcare facilities for help – yet too many people are acquiring new medical issues in hospitals when they should be recuperating. Hospital acquired infection includes a range of issues such as superbugs bred and strengthened  in the hospital environment, pneumonia and bloodstream infections. Because hospitals provide a hub for various ailments, these can spread between patients if healthcare staff aren’t cautious.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff hygiene protocol is essential in the protection of patients from HAI. Nurses and other staff should have a post-patient procedure which makes it safe for them to move on to new patients without the risk of infecting them.

Patient Mix Ups

Treating the wrong patient is a common safety mistake in healthcare facilities and one that’s entirely down to human error. Errors in treating the right patient extend beyond mismedicating.  Because multiple staff members will be treating patients at any one time, it’s easy for wires to be crossed when staff communicate about patients, resulting in tests being applied to the wrong patient, treatments to be misapplied and even discharge to take place accidentally.

Eliminating patient mix ups is something every healthcare facility can achieve by putting rigorous systems in place and ensuring staff are adequately trained and supported. Cross referencing patient names with date of birth before any action is taken provides a double lock on patient treatment.

Pressure Ulcers

There are a wide range of reasons why an inpatient’s mobility may be compromised, from broken bones to induced comas. The dangers of immobility for patients are surprisingly profound and it’s easy for medical staff to overlook mobility as a priority in a patient’s treatment. Pressure ulcers are a common occurrence when immobility is combined with poor nutrition, and the development of ulcers dramatically increases the chance of contracting further infection.

A patient mobility programme should be set in place ensuring that immobile patients are regularly turned, relieving pressure from any one spot. On top of this practice nurses should be trained to assess for the developing stages of ulcers and be empowered to intervene where necessary.

Data Management Failures

Properly implemented data management systems can lead to improved health outcomes in healthcare facilities. The amount of data generated in such facilities can lead to insights resulting in improved rates of recovery, if data analytics are properly applied. Problematic data management systems are a common mistake that can severely compromise patient safety in healthcare facilities.

Data management issues can stem from a lack of analytic insight to more mundane problems of data entry. The misprocessing of patient data can lead to clinicians lacking the necessary information to provide proper treatment. Data entry in healthcare facilities is a vital component of care and it’s important for healthcare facilities to build administrative systems which are intuitive and enable their staff to collect and store data appropriately.

Checking Out

Healthcare facilities face diverse challenges when providing patient care and staff errors can be costly both in terms of patient outcomes and the bottom line. Eliminating these staff errors as much as possible will enable healthcare facilities to be profitable and safe for patients.


Katherine Rundell is a medical writer at Essay Writing Services and Academized.com. She has been published in the Lancet and BMJ, and is interested in how healthcare is provided in a changing landscape. She is also a proofreader at State Of Writing.

 

Patient Safety

Three resources to prevent medical errors during transfer of care

Three resources to help prevent medical errors during transitions of care.

Co-authored by Stephen Routledge, MPH, Patient Safety Improvement Lead, Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Michael Wong, JD, Founder & Executive Director of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety

Medical errors can be costly for both patient and hospital. As defined by the Joint Commission: In order to keep patients safe, clinicians should focus on the three key points along the patient’s continuum of care. To help, we offer these free resources:

Read More

Patient Safety, Practices & Tips

Hospital News – What doctors can do to prevent medical errors during transitions of care

In this article by Michael Wong, JD, is the Founder & Executive Director of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety and Stephen Routledge, MPH, is Patient Safety Improvement Lead, Canadian Patient Safety Institute, Mr. Wong and Mr. Routledge discuss what doctors can do to prevent medical errors during transitions of care.

To read the article on Hospital News, please click here.

This is a special rewrite of an article Mr. Wong and Mr. Routledge wrote for Canadian Healthcare Network.

Opioid Safety, Patient Safety, Respiratory Compromise

What doctors can do to prevent medical errors during transfer of care

In this joint article, Canadian Patient Safety Institute and PPAHS discuss what doctors can do to prevent medical errors during transfer of care.

Co-authored by Stephen Routledge, MPH, Patient Safety Improvement Lead, Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Michael Wong, JD, Founder and Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety

How can clinicians keep patients safe during critical transition of care? As patients’ conditions change, they move to different hospital floors, care teams and, eventually, leave the hospital. During those moments, patients are at high risk of fragmented care, adverse drug events and medication errors.

Read More

Patient Safety

An Interview With The Creator Of PatientAider

Mari Miceli, who developed the PatientAider application, discusses why she developed the application to help patients, families and their advocates while in hospital educate themselves about patient safety.

By Michael Wong, JD (founder and executive director, the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety)

Often times, as a patient, the hospital and its staff can be a bewildering and seemingly unfriendly environment; processes, procedures, and even the language spoken can truly be confusing. In a recent NY Times article, “In the Hospital, a Degrading Shift From Person to Patient”, Benedict Carey writes:

Entering the medical system, whether a hospital, a nursing home or a clinic, is often degrading… at many others the small courtesies that help lubricate and dignify civil society are neglected precisely when they are needed most, when people are feeling acutely cut off from others and betrayed by their own bodies.

To help navigate this world of hospitals and healthcare, I recently spoke with Mari Miceli. Mari has worked over 15 years as a registered nurse after graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Lowell with a BS in Nursing and the University of Illinois with a BFA. in Industrial Design. She is also a Regional Network Chair, a volunteer position at the Patient Safety Movement Foundation. Read More

Must Reads, Patient Safety

Patient Safety Weekly Must Reads (September 16, 2016)

In this week’s Must Reads, we feature a guest post by Betsy Cohen, a Certified and Licensed Rehabilitation Counselor about her management program for medical errors. On the web, we focused on some great dialogue around cooperation across multiple stakeholders to ensure the safe use of opioids. Read More

Patient Safety

What Can Be Done about Medical Errors?

By Michael Wong, JD (Founder/Executive Director, Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety) and Nicholas Wong (Director, Patient Safety Analytics, PPAHS)

Editor’s note: This article was first published in TheDoctorWeighsIn. It discusses recent research showing that medical errors constitute the third leading cause of death in the US and the need to develop high reliability in hospitals.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal by Martin A Makary, MD, and Michael Daniel, MD (both from the Department of Surgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) estimates that more than 250,000 deaths due to medical error occur in the United States alone. Read More

Patient Stories, Respiratory Compromise

We can help prevent deaths from medical error

By Lenore Alexander (Executive Director, LeahsLegacy)

For many years I have understood that to travel by plane, you should not have to get a pilot’s license.

I still think that is true, and that’s because the airline industry, along with the government, has addressed the job of fixing what was wrong and making air travel both safe and accountable.

In the past, I used that analogy to explain why I didn’t think you should need a medical background to be a safe patient. Time, knowledge and reality have changed my opinion.

To read her opinion, please click here.