Patient’s safety is a serious concern in the global public health issues. According to estimates shown by the World Health Organization, one in ten patients is harmed during receiving healthcare in developed countries. “Of every hundred 100 hospitalized patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire health care-associated infections. Hundreds of millions of patients are affected by this worldwide each year.”
On the other hand, healthcare continues to take great strides and revolutionize every day. An HHS review explains that hospital-acquired condition rates dropped 17 per cent from 2010 to 2014, leading to 87,000 fewer patient deaths. But several issues arising in 2015-2016 shed new light on some aspects of patient’s safety. So, what would they look like in the coming 100 years?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality calls medication errors “one of the most common types of inpatient errors.”
It is highly probable that medication errors will continue to rise in the coming years too, since some patients are hesitant to tell their situation to the medics and get advised a drug that gets them an adverse effect. The current number of patients getting side effects by a drug is 5 per cent, and doctors try their best to decrease it further more. That’s where the problem of communication becomes even more troubling. Mistakes in labeling, incorrect dosage, neglecting to treat a problem indicated by a patient’s vital signs, and documentation errors can almost not be solved unless a whole system operates in a hospital that work solely to lessen them. “…now that we understand the types of errors that are being made and their frequencies, we can begin to develop targeted strategies to prevent them,” said Karen Nanji, MD, in a study by Massachusetts General Hospital.
Diagnostic errors came in the spotlight in late 2015, thanks to a report titled ‘Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare.” The report shines new light on issues in diagnosis and fears that 6 to 17 percent of patient’s safety events are related to wrong diagnosis. Roughly 10 percent deaths happen due to a flaw in diagnosis and it is highly alarming. “The report launched an important conversation about a serious patient safety issue with broad impact across the continuum of care,” said Tejal Gandhi, MD, at National Patient Safety Foundation.
The only way to counter this is to work closely with patients and their families to foster teamwork. If a strong connection is built between them, the errors might possibly be lessened.
Hospital facility safety:
Issues with the hospital facilities can put patient’s safety at risk. Several times in 2015, patient’s safety was risked due to flaws at the hospital facilities. A Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration cited that one hospital had high number of patient’s safety issues because of the way they dealt with sewage system, and also found live rats in the air-conditioning vents. These problems worsen by time because of the frequent use of machines to perform daily tasks and time management issues by people.
Legionnaires disease is being commonly associated to hospital safety issues. Patients having Legionnaires disease “are commonly associated with buildings or structures that have complex water systems, like…hospitals,” according to the CDC.
If issues with air-conditioning vents, sewage, cleanliness, sterile equipment, etc aren’t solved, the problems might grow in the future and be the cause of much damage.
According to CDC, there is a particularly new strain of bacteria evolving into a state that can’t be treated using one or two antibiotics. They are superbugs and they’re getting stronger as a threat to patients. Some scientists call them ‘phantom menace’ because of their highly resistant and highly destructive nature. Scientists in China have also found such strains of bacteria in pigs, chicken and humans that are almost undefeatable even by last resort medications. If some urgent steps aren’t taken, they might grow stronger.
Cyber insecurity of hospital systems:
In the tech world, everyone is a client. Hospitals rely heavily on cyber technology for all sorts of daily tasks. Electronic health records are made, and an IT department works to store all information that goes in and out. But now, cyber security is considered a huge safety risk for the patients. Even if exploiting patient records isn’t the issue, hackers can gain access to medical records to steak valuable and confidential medical data. No matter how strong the protection is, it is always a point of concern for the medical world. See this study on cyber issues by Baheti.
Going transparent with data:
Many health systems ask the patients about their rating of the services they received at the hospital. But not all of them go transparent and publish the information online for everyone to see. “When everyone — physicians, patients, institutions, and the press — is privy to data on performance, physicians will develop a greater sense of accountability to deliver quality care,” Ashish K. Jha, MD, a patient safety researcher at Harvard University’s School of Public Health in Cambridge, Mass., wrote in a post on Harvard Business Review in October.
Such an aggregate rating system can help medics to solve key issues in the health system. It is very important now to consider following user ratings in the world’s most responsible profession to save more lives.
It is established fact that technical and cyber issues are haunting the field of medicine for the future. Some steps need to be taken by the governments and professionals together to solve these major problems, to avoid great damage. Becker’s Hospital Review has a good study to help in patient’ safety problems. Also take a look at WHO’s patient’s safety campaigns to see what happened in the past and what can be done in future.