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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2 Responses

  1. Introducing the Voices of Patient Harm

    Have you been affected by patient harm?

    ProPublica helps capture the stories behind the statistics. So, share your story and photo with them on Tumblr.

    Hope R. Hetico RN MHA


  2. Hospital-Caused Harm Decreased by 4.5% from 2010-2014

    JAMA recently published a discussion on trends in safety for hospitalized patients. Here are some key findings from the report:

    • The rate of adverse events among all hospitalized adults in 2010 was 145 events per 1000 hospitalized.
    • In 2014, the rate of harm decreased to 121 adverse events per 1000 hospitalizations.
    • There was a 4.5% decrease in adverse events per year from 2010-2014.
    • Adverse events declined by 8%/year for Medicare patients hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction.
    • There was a 5% annual decline of adverse events for patients hospitalized for congestive heart failure.
    • The rate of harm to patients hospitalized with pneumonia or for major surgery was unchanged.

    Source: JAMA, June 13, 2016


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