Medical Errors and Hospital Safety

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A “Speak-Up” Prevention Program

[By Staff Writers]

According to research by Harvard School of Public Health, about 34 percent of patients say they or their families have been affected by medical errors.  

For people with chronic illnesses, the percentage rises to a frightening 50 percent. This may be, in part, because doctors aren’t spending time listening to patients; interrupting after only 23 seconds.

Realistically, it also comes from the inevitable process errors that occur during routine care, including “never-event” like wrong-site surgery. 

Therefore, experts are increasingly suggesting that patients stay on guard in medical settings, and in particular, play a larger role in hospital medical safety. To get this done, it will take a cultural change, as patients typically assume they should blindly follow medial orders, according to Dennis O’Leary, JCAHO’s president.

And so, to promote patient participation in hospital safety, JCAHO has launched a new program called “Speak Up” to encourage the reporting of safety concerns. 

Now that patient advocates are also placing an emphasis on getting family members to keep their eyes open for hospital care errors – what do you think about this program – dismayed, dismissed or empowered?

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An Emerging Never-Events Policy

Leapfrog Hospital Quality and Safety Survey

Staff WritersHospital Access Management

According to a September 2007 report, just over half of responding hospitals have adopted the new Leapfrog Group Never-Events Policy, which is a list of actions to take whenever a “never-event” – a rare medical error – occurs. By agreeing to this policy, hospitals pledge to:

  • Apologize to the patient and/or family affected by the never-event.
  • Report the event to at least one of the following agencies: The Joint Commission, a state reporting program for medical errors, a Patient Safety Organization.
  • Perform a root cause analysis, consistent with instructions from the chosen reporting agency.
  • Waive all costs directly related to the serious reportable adverse event.

The Leapfrog Group follows the National Quality Forum’s (NQF) definition of “never-events”; which includes errors such as surgery performed on the wrong body part or on the wrong patient, leaving a foreign object inside a patient after surgery, and discharging an infant to the wrong person, etc. 

Is this policy reasonable or unreasonable, in your estimation?

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Offshore Employee Medical Benefits

A Global Healthcare Model

Staff Writers


American businesses are now extending their cost-cutting initiatives to include offshore employee medical benefits and facilities like the Bumrungrad Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand (cosmetic surgery), the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, India (cardiac and orthopedic surgery) are premier examples for surgical care. 

Both are internationally recognized institutions that resemble five-star hotels equipped with the latest medical technology. Countries such as Finland, England and Canada are also catering to the English-speaking crowd, while dentistry is especially popular in Mexico and Costa Rica.  

Although still considered “medical tourism,” Mercer Health and Benefits was recently retained by three Fortune 500 companies interested in contracting with offshore hospitals and JCAHO has accredited 88 foreign hospitals through a joint international commission.  

To be sure, when India can discount costs up to 80%, the effects on domestic hospital reimbursement and physician compensation may be assumed to induce downward pricing pressure spirals. 

So, what do you think of this idea and how does it relate to the currently weak US greenback?

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