Hospitals face different challenges every year as new technologies are developed and new treatment methods are available. Both Becker's Hospital Review and the ECRI Institute, a medical nonprofit that works to improve patient care, have released lists of the top challenges hospitals face for patient care and safety in 2016.
Becker's list focused on overall health trends for the year. The list includes
- Medication Errors—According to the Mayo Clinic, 7 in 10 Americans take prescription drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the United States makes up 5% of the world's population and consumes 75% of the world's prescription drugs. Needless to say, Prescription medication is a popular form of treatment in the United States. But with that popularity comes dangers of adverse drug events. Medication errors include wrong prescriptions, wrong dosages, and problems with the medication itself.
- Diagnostic Errors—Becker's reports that diagnostic errors contribute to 10% of patient deaths.
- Discharge Practices—These practices include when a patient goes home from a hospital or is discharged to another health care facility. If patients are not provided adequate information or required to appear for follow-ups, they can quickly relapse or get worse.
- Workplace Safety—Keeping health care facility staff safe
- Hospital facility safety—Maintaining hospital facilities so they are safe for patients.
- Reprocessing issues—Hospital staff must closely follow the cleaning and disinfection guidelines for medical equipment.
- Sepsis—A dangerous infectious bacteria that can be common in health care facilities
- Super Superbugs—Bacteria that do not respond to treatments from two or more antibiotics.
- Cyber-insecurity—Cybersecurity threats have shaken the medical community in the past year with reports of patient data and vital electronic life-saving machines getting hacked and held ransom.
- Transparent data—Allowing patients to see real data about patient care at hospitals.
The ECRI Institute provides a different view of the current challenges in patient safety. It used the Patient Safety Organization database of over 1.2 million patient safety events in 2015 to compile a list of the real-time issues in-patient care today. This list includes the top ten most frequently occurring patient safety errors of 2015:
- Health IT Configurations and Organizational Workflow That Do Not Support Each Other— IT systems must work within the communication and workflow systems in hospitals to ensure patient information gets where it needs to be.
- Patient Identification Errors—Simple administrative errors in admitting patients under incorrect names or health history information can have big effects on that patient's care.
- Inadequate Management of Behavioral Health Issues in Non-Behavioral-Health Settings—When health care professionals are not properly trained to handle mental health patients, outbursts from patients can quickly become dangerous for the staff and the patient.
- Inadequate Cleaning and Disinfection of Flexible Endoscopes—Some were recalled by the FDA earlier this year due to infections.
- Inadequate Test-Result Reporting and Follow-up—Failing to follow-up with a patient or specialist about a patient's test results can delay or change the treatment plan.
- Inadequate Monitoring for Respiratory Depression in Patients Prescribed Opioids—Patients sedated with opioids can appear restful while actually experiencing dangerous breathing problems
- Medication Errors Related to Pounds and Kilograms—Simple conversion errors between pounds and kilograms can leave patients with lethal medication dosage amounts.
- Unintentionally Retained Objects despite Correct Count—Some surgeries require hundreds of pieces of medical equipment. Life-threatening infections can grow when these objects, like small sponges, are left in patients.
- Inadequate Antimicrobial Stewardship—The overuse of antibiotics can be dangerous for patients.
- Failure to Embrace a Culture of Safety—Patient safety in health care facilities starts with the management of the facility, and spreads to each individual staff member.