MEDICAL ERRORS DOCUMENTATION Introduction A medical error is defined as what happens when something planned as part of medical care doesn’t occur or when a wrong plan is used. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report in 2000, To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System , declared that 44,000-98,000 patients die in the U.S. hospitals annually from medical errors.(4). Even considering this astonishingly wide range, that would put “death due to medical error” as somewhere between the fifth and eighth leading cause of death in this country! Approximately 7000 deaths each year are attributed to medication errors, also known as “preventable adverse drug events” (ADEs), alone.(4) The price tag for all these mistakes is astronomical: around $37.6 billion annually; with $17 billion associated with errors regarded as preventable. The call to improve health care safety comes from a wide range of organizations and pressures, including consumer groups, regulatory agents, market forces, and professional input. Recognizing that anyone can miss the mark, a “culture of safety” is being created to encourage reporting of errors for evaluation and correction.(8) Safety can be thought of as a minimum standard of acceptable care, usually expressed through regulations and via legislation. Although aiming toward excellence in care, the health care system must meet certain minimum standards of patient safety in order to reach excellence. In a recent national poll, 42% of the respondents reported being affected by a medical error (either personally or through a friend or relative). Worse, 32% indicated that the error had a permanent negative effect on the patient’s health.(4) another national survey found that Americans are “very concerned” about errors: 61% feared being given the wrong medicine; 58% feared being given two or more drugs with a bad interaction; and 56% feared complications from a medical procedure.(4) That’s a lot of fear. Ours is not a perfect world. Mistakes happen in health care. This is not a new problem. Medical errors involve communication, medicines and herbal therapies, surgery, diagnosis, equipment, lab reports, treatments, plans-of- care, transfers and follow-up care. They happen when communication breaks down, when patients do not or cannot make informed decisions, during routine tasks and during activities of daily living. New concerns, thought, are being raised in the health care community. Nurses have expressed fears that the publicity and focus on mandatory error reporting may lead to increased lawsuits and strained relationships among patients and health care providers. Legal liability risks in daily practice and interactions with patients because of preventable medical errors are increasing. Civil (professional malpractice), administrative (licensure) and criminal litigation are becoming common concerns. The greatest defense against litigation, however, continues to be prevention of medical errors, accurate documentation and standardization of practice.(10) Objectives
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- Summer '15
- Health care provider, medical error, Iatrogenesis