New Report Sheds Light on Patient Safety Issues in Hospitals
A new report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has revealed reasons why hospitals are ineffective at addressing patient safety issues. Ironically, the report was released during National Patient Safety Awareness Week, an annual event where the National Patient Safety Foundation passes out educational materials to hospitals around the country. Aside from the hilariously bad timing, the report can teach us a lot about what hospitals are doing wrong.
While the results should not scare you away from receiving treatment at a hospital, it should invite caution and promote curiosity. Here’s what the report can tell us.
- Hospitals are ineffective at discovering patient safety problems. Administrators are bad at finding information on adverse events and taking action to report them.
- Hospitals have no idea which patient safety practices should be implemented. According to the report, hospitals may try several different patient safety practices until they find ones that work. In other words, they are throwing darts at a board while blindfolded and hoping one will stick.
- Once found, hospitals do not ensure working safety practices are implemented. The GAO report claims hospitals lack the means to enforce new policies that can protect patients. Hospitals claim some staff will ignore new policies, and administrators cannot constantly monitor everyone.
How Can Patient Safety Issues in Hospitals Be Resolved?
People go to hospitals to receive treatment, not to become sicker or lose their lives. Although this report only observed six hospitals, tens of thousands of people die every year from preventable causes while undergoing treatments.
Fortunately, the Department of Health and Human Services is launching the Medical Liability Reform & Patient Safety Initiative. This initiative will work to reduce preventable medical errors, improve communication between hospital staff, ensure patients are compensated fairly for mistakes and reduce liability premiums. Some patient safety issues in hospitals may soon be resolved.
Perhaps in the near future, we can be a little bit less afraid of going to the hospital.
Shapiro Law Group is a Tampa Bay medical malpractice law firm with decades of experience helping patients and families who have been affected by hospital mistakes.