Medical errors are mistakes committed while offering treatment to patients. Institute of Medicine brought this to the limelight over a decade ago. Since then a number of preventive measures have been implemented since the number of medical errors occurring each day were quite alarming. Research done by various organizations including Harvard School of Medicine show that 18% of patients will get hurt in the course f treatment; that one in each seven patients are hurt in hospital which leads to about 180,000 deaths of patients per year.
Even more alarming is the increased rate of never events such wrong surgery, procedure and medications. The ignorance of the public to the facts creates an even bigger risk since they cannot prevent the errors from happening without the knowledge required. Strategies have been developed to reduce the numbers of errors as well as educate the public on the existence of the errors with the hope of reducing unnecessary deaths and injuries. (American Association for Justice, 2013)
The first strategy recommended by the Food and Drug Administration is the use of identifiers specific to each patient using a bar coded identification wristband. This wrist band is given to the patient immediately they are admitted which transmits the information to the hospital’s system. Nurses and doctors then carry scanners and laptops together with the patients charts which allows proper identification of the patient using the scanner to verify the name of patients, any known allergies and drugs the patient is taking.
The fact that the full name and social security numbers are used reduces the chances of confusing one patient with the other greatly. The second cause of errors was confusion with medication due to closely related names and bad handwriting causing poor communication. It is clear that the use of some drugs and some drug combinations can be quite dangerous to the patient. This mistake while it is a direct result of medical errors, it is greatly perpetuated due to patient ignorance. The FDA has been reviewing medical errors caused by drug name confusion each year for the purposes of opening a database to track closely related drug names for awareness to medical staff and patients as well as revoked some drug licenses in cases where deaths occur. Separation of drugs with similar names has been advised and clearly listing the drug name are some of the methodologies being used. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2013)
The last and probably the most helpful to the cause is public awareness. MedWatch is responsible for tracking cases of medical errors as well as conduct awareness. It involves publishing various medical errors to keep the public aware through a news letter called Safe Medicine.
Awareness encourages the public to be aware of the kind of errors taking place and be on the lookout, to be more interested in knowing the drugs prescribed to them and for what purpose and lastly to be vigilant while taking medication so as to do it exactly as prescribed. Since the patients; who are the people at risk, are aware of medical errors it is much easier to ask queries about various mediations given to them which reduce the risk of errors. The communication channel established by the FDA has aided greatly in customer awareness which in turn has made drug survey easy in cases of drug confusion. (Jenkins. R & Vaida. A, 2007).
The use of this main strategies has greatly reduced the cases of medical errors while there is a lot to be done to reduce the numbers of medical errors still existence, this is a good start. Critics will downplay these strategies because they are more of preventive measures rather than a solution; however, prevention is better than cure. As a solution and more conclusions about medical error are being made the preventive measures ensure that there are no more medical errors occurring though at a slow pace, eventually, prevention will win.
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