Weekly Must Reads in Patient Safety (May 8, 2015)

Happy Nurses Week!

This week’s must reads feature some interesting questions – and we would love to hear what you think on the following questions:

How can my wife be dead 48 hours after giving birth?

This is the question that Tim Harcourt asks.


Kidspot reports:

Tim Harcourt had the “perfect little family.” He and his beloved wife Carina were celebrating the birth of their third child when the unthinkable happened: she collapsed in her hospital room shower and died from a suspected blood clot

“It’s a tragic consequence and, although dying is rare, blood clots related to pregnancy are more common than you would think,obstetrician and gynaecologist Andrew Zuschmann told The Daily Telegraph.

#bloodclots related to #pregnancy are more common than you would think #ptsafety Click To Tweet

Are medical errors the leading cause of death in the U.S.?

In this Newsweek article, David Chan, MD (UCLA, Stanford Oncology Fellowship) doubts whether medical errors are the leading cause of death in the US. He writes:

Medical errors in hospitals do occur because doctors, nurses, pharmacists aren’t machines. But the errors aren’t the leading cause of death in the hospital let alone the United States. Given the infrastructure of very high end technology and equipment, the training and staffing of American hospitals with highly selected physicians and nurses, medical errors are rare compared to other countries.

are #medicalerrors a leading cause of #death in the US? #ptsafety Click To Tweet

Medical errors may not be the leading cause, but Dr. Peter Pronovost believes it to be the third leading cause of death and not a trifling matter (as Dr Chan seems to imply). Dr. Pronovost is Professor, Departments of Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine and Surgery at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Medical Director at the Center for Innovation in Quality Patient. When he appeared on the Katie Couric show, he discussed the number of preventable deaths that occur each year in the United States:

Frame the size of your problem. I suspect that all of your viewers either have been touched by or a family member has been harmed by mistakes. It is the third leading cause of death in this country. More people die from medical mistakes each year than died per year in the civil war.

So, are medical errors a leading cause of death in the US?

Dr Pronovost - #medicalerrors are the third leading cause of death #ptsafety Click To Tweet

Can opioid use cause birth defects?

According to recent CDC research, opioid medications are widely used among women of reproductive age in the United States, increasing their risk for having a child with birth defects if they are or become pregnant:

“Taking opioid medications early in pregnancy can cause birth defects and serious problems for the infant and the mother,” said Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a press statement. “Many women of reproductive age are taking these medicines and may not know they are pregnant and therefore may be unknowingly exposing their unborn child [to birth defects]. That’s why it’s critical for health care professionals to take a thorough health assessment before prescribing these medicines to women of reproductive age.

CDC: #opioid use cause birth defects #ptsafety Click To Tweet

Would redesigning hospital rooms improve patient safety?

Interesting story in US News & World Report about how hospitals are redesigning spaces to improve patient safety:

“We’ve all discovered that the bed is the worst place for patients,” says Dr. Michael Ramsay, chairman of anesthesiology at Baylor Health Care System in Houston and president of the Baylor Research Institute. Too much time in a hospital bed can cause bed sores and muscle atrophy, as well prevent patients from getting the exercise they need to heal. Plus, it can be depressing and isolating, especially when it seems like doctors and nurses are too busy to pay constant attention.

would redesigning hospital rooms improve #patientsafety? Click To Tweet Dr. Michael Ramsay: too much time in a hospital bed can cause #bedsores and muscle atrophy Click To Tweet

Can nursing homes prevent pressure ulcers?

According to Dr. Ramsay, too much time in a hospital bed can cause pressure ulcers (commonly referred to as bed sores) and muscle atrophy, see article noted above.

can #nursinghomes prevent #bedsores? #ptsafety? Click To Tweet

Eric D. Dakhari, an attorney at Stark & Stark, writes in The National Law Review that nursing homes can prevent pressure ulcers:

Nursing homes can prevent pressure ulcers and bedsores from developing.

Nursing home staff can detect the early changes occurring in a patient’s health status that indicate that the patient’s skin is about break down and develop a pressure ulcer—if they fail to immediately implement well-recognized and accepted interventions for avoiding pressure ulcers.

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