Medical Errors Essay

Words: 1988
Pages: 8

Medical Errors

Medical errors are responsible for injury in as many as 1 out of every 25 hospital patients; an estimated 48,000-98,000 patients die from medical errors each year. This means that more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. Errors in health care have been estimated to cost more than $5 million per year in a large teaching hospital, and preventable health care-related cost the economy from $17 to $29 billion each year.
What are Medical Errors?
Medical errors happen when something that was planned as a part of medical care doesn't work out, or when the wrong plan was used in the first place. Medical errors can occur anywhere in the health care system: • Hospitals.
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• Failures in disseminating pharmaceutical information, in checking drug doses and patient identities, and in making patient information available are system errors that accounted for adverse drug events in over half of the hospitals studied. • One system-level factor, staffing levels of nurses (adjusted for hospital characteristics), was found in a study to influence the incidence of adverse events following major surgery, such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, thrombosis, and pulmonary compromise.
This research on systemic problems leads investigators to conclude that any effort to reduce medical errors in an organization requires changes to the system design, including possible reorganization of resources by top-level management.

Improving Patient Safety
Research funded by AHRQ and others has been important in identifying the extent and causes of errors. Now, additional research is needed to develop and test better ways to prevent errors, often by reducing the reliance on human memory. Some areas of past research that have shown promise in helping to reduce errors include computerized ADE monitoring, computer-generated reminders for followup testing, and standardized protocols.
Computerized ADE Monitoring
Although chart review was found in an AHRQ-funded study to be more accurate than computer tracking and