5 common medical mistakes that can be avoided

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I think I posted something similar to this article I found on msn.com about once a year.  It is not to be repetitive but to just remind not only me, but all of us what we need to think of when we go to the hospital. There has been many times, especially with my children, when I’ve gone to the hospital with a sick child and I literally hand them over to health care providers desperate and thinking they are now in good hands.  But, as Joe Kiani, founder of Patient Safety Movement Foundation, told U.S. News World Report, “The last thing you imagine is that environment killing your child.”  As his foundation found, each year more than 200,000 people die from preventable medical errors and up to 20 time more people suffer from errors but don’t die from them.   Kiani listed the five most common medical errors – and what you can do to try to prevent them.

  1. Medication Errors:
    According to the Institute of Medicine, when it comes to medications, innocent mistakes hurt about 1.5 million people each year. It never hurts to ask hospital staff what you’re taking, how much, how often and why.
  1. Too many blood transfusions:
    Red blood cell transfusions are a very common procedure in hospitals here in the U.S., but nearly 60 percent globally were considered “inappropriate” procedures by a 2011 study. Other research shows the more blood cells a patient receives, the higher his or her risk for infection. Some studies have even found blood transfusions increase the risk for death and disease. Before you or a loved one undergoes a transfusion, ask why it’s necessary.
  1. Too much oxygen for premature babies:
    Anna Noonan, vice president of the James M. Jeffords Institute for Quality & Operational Effectiveness at the University of Vermont Medical Center, is a registered nurse.  She finds that”oxygen is like a drug: “Too much is not good, too little isn’t good.  She says you have to find “the sweet spot” when pumping oxygen into premature babies since an oxygen overdose can cause blindness. The Vermont Medical Center where she works has implemented guidelines that help clinicians identify that sweet spot based on the baby’s weight.
  1. Health Care-Associated Infections:
    On any given day, about 1 in every 25 hospital patients contracts an infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Fortunately, the most effective solution is straightforward: Remind your clinician to wash his or her hands.
  1. Infections from Central Lines:
    One type of hospital associated infection is caused by tubes of medicine or fluids usually inserted into large veins, actually reate “a highway for bacteria to get into the blood or into the bladder,” says Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director for Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs at the CDC. For patients, being proactive is key since studies show clinicians sometimes forget about lines, Srinivasan says. “That reminder from the patient can be the impetus for the treatment team to … take it out.”

The Good News

There is an upside to this information.  For clinicians, to know this information is helping them create a movement to eliminate all such deaths by 2020.  Kiana notes that at his organization’s recent meeting, for example, 400 California hospitals committed to implementing solutions that should save 15,000 lives a year.

We hope that hospitals here in Northeast Florida also commit to implementing solutions to saving lives from these common medical mistakes.  It is necessary and so very important.

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