Safety is fundamental for providing essential health care. Safety refers to making sure that the treatment of a patient in a health care setting does not harm the patient in any way.
Safety may or may not be easy to spot. For example if you see a patient having an adverse reaction because they were given the wrong dosage of medication, that’s a sign of a major safety lapse. While it may sometimes be easy to see what harm has been caused, addressing the root cause of safety issue is not always so straight-forward.
Hospitals are busy, complex places where many dedicated people do remarkable work which includes saving lives on a daily basis. In hospitals that have strong leadership, and teams that work together, patients’ safety happens to be a top a priority.
While many hospitals are good at keeping their patients safe, some fail at this essential point. Some hospitals have hidden dangers that everyone should be aware of.
Having strong teams that are good at coordinated care reduces infection rates, and they continuously check and double check for human errors. Hospital management can also create a strong line of communication between hospital staff members, patients, and their families.
Everyone makes mistakes but when there is a good team in place, they can look out for each other and the patients as well. When hospitals lack teams that can work together, or good leadership; they are prone to making mistakes that can cost lives. Imagine one person making a blunder and not having a good team in place ready to tackle the situation. Because of certain mistakes, patients who end up suffering.
Importance of communication to ensure patient’s safety
When communication between the hospital staff breaks down, the patient gets harmed, hospital reputations get at stake and everybody loses. Because of lack of communication patients might experience life-threatening complications, the process of recovery is slower, and some even end up dead.
Patients’ safety is something that is a crucial part of a health care service. In recent times, and with the evolving technology the health care world has become well equipped, and we as a society have high expectations.
These expectations are met every day by professionals, but with the number of patients ever increasing, there are certain difficulties in maintaining high levels of health care.
The world health organization defines patient’s safety as the prevention of errors and adverse effects associated with the healthcare to the patient. Let’s look into the two most common harms that patients face due to lack of safety precautions.
Mistakes with medicines and surgical methods
More than 1 million times a year, patients in the Unites States are given the wrong medication or the wrong dosage while in hospitals. Even the best doctors and nurses can make tiny errors that can have major consequences.
Here is an example; the improvements in surgical tactics, allowed over two thousand and two hundred heart transplants to be performed in the United States last year. With this number, America has become an international leader in transplant surgeries and with almost 90 % one-year survival rate.
But this is nearly the same number of surgeries that were performed on the wrong side. These include mistakes such as removing a wrong kidney, performing the wrong operation, or operating on the wrong patient. The lowest estimate states that over 9,800 people die per year due to mistakes made by hospitals. This leads medical error as the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart diseases and cancer, but ahead of strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza, and pneumonia.
We are human and we make mistakes but there is no excuse for taking out the wrong kidney, and there is no excuse for over 60% of health care worker for not properly washing their hands before or after the encounter with the patient.
Infections that could be prevented
Every year 1 out of 25 patients develops an infection while in the hospital, an infection that did not have to happen. The most shocking side of the hospital problem is that as many as forty-four thousand and four hundred people die each year because of such safety problems. The number equals almost half the population of Miami.
The safety of patients should not be taken for granted. Actively pursuing quality improvements can make a huge difference. Let me give you another example; at the University of Southwestern in 2012 it was noticed that there were 135 cases associated with urinary tract infections caused by catheters.
The hospital after having trained observers watch over found that 5 out of 17 elements of infection could have been easily prevented if proper catheter placements were being consistently followed by standardizing procedures.
Within just one year with trained nurses, catheter-associated infections were cut by 45% also saving an estimate of sixty-one thousand dollars and many lives.
It is understandable that health care providers have a lot going on. They have to keep cost down, see a growing number of patients, and keep up with all new medical advancements and that is no small feat. But each life is priceless and should not be sacrificed because of carelessness and mistakes that are avoidable.
We have treatments and operations available now that would not have been remotely possible just a few decades earlier. Things like statins to treat high cholesterol, targeted cancer therapies, and bionic limbs which have revolutionized patient care.
However, in this push for the latest and the greatest, it seems like health care providers are often forgetting the basics by making simple mistakes.
Safety highlights the system’s nature and health care quality. When we take the safety-first approach, we can catch the near-misses, potential gaps, and safety notice before an adverse event occurs. Quality improvement and a culture of safety arises only when we all use the system’s procedures.