Hospitals know what kinds of steps they can take to improve patient safety. This includes adequate staffing, proactive error review, and safety briefings. A hospital in Wyoming implemented a number of these safety measures and saw a 70% drop in medical errors. Unfortunately, many medical centers are focused more on profits than patients.
Medical Center Safety Program
The Wyoming Medical Center in Casper had a number of the same issues as other hospitals and medical offices. One of the common causes of medical mistakes is distractions while healthcare professionals are performing important tasks. Distractions while administering medications can lead to giving the patient the wrong prescription, the wrong dose, or double dosing.
The medical center’s CEO then went on a trip to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and was inspired to make changes to the medical center’s safety program. Changes include daily safety briefings and badges to help nurses avoid distractions. According to the health centers risk management representative, the program lowered malpractice insurance costs and the hospital was able to go for 6 months without a serious incident.
Like other hospitals, officials would review errors and accidents as individual incidents instead of as representations of a systemic problem. Inspired by NASA’s change in safety culture following the Columbia space shuttle disaster, the hospital understood the need for a system-wide change, including daily safety briefings and a hotline for doctors to report concerns.
This year, the medical center was recognized with an “A” by the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. Only about 1/3rd of hospitals receive an A grade. The safety grade ranking is based on a number of factors, including safety leadership structures, identification and mitigation of risks, communication, responsiveness, and staffing.
Distractions and Medical Errors
A lot of people think multitasking is a skill but studies show that doing multiple tasks at the same time is not faster or better. The same is true for the medical industry. According to one study, nurses administering medications and pharmacists dispensing medications are distracted and interrupted as often as once every two minutes. These distractions are a cause of many medical errors.
A physician is interrupted about once every 5 minutes in an academic emergency department setting. The risk of medication errors increases by more than 12% with each interruption. If a nurse is interrupted 4 times during a single drug administration, the risk of making a harmful medication error is doubled.
One of the methods to improve medication safety is to use No Interruption Zones (NIZ). This concept was taken from aviation. NIZs in a medical setting can involve a designated area where staff operating in that zone are not to be disturbed. This can be accomplished through visual markers, such as red tape, or other dedicated medication rooms.
Hospital Medication Errors
When a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist makes a medication error, it can have disastrous results. If you or a loved one was injured as the result of a medication mistake the Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to help you recover compensation for your injuries. If you have questions about a negligent medical procedure that caused an injury, contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today.