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December 2012 Archives

All disciplines join forces to help prevent deadly medical errors

In 2012, the Institute for Health Care Improvement and two other groups conducted a study as part of the Retooling for Quality and Safety initiative. The study concluded that integration of interprofessional teamwork should be included in the curricula of both medical and nursing schools in an effort to prevent medical errors. The University of Missouri and five other universities participated in the study. One of the most important aspects of this study was that many of the universities gave students the chance to work with actual patients in a hospital setting. This gave the students an opportunity to apply some of the safety concepts that would help prevent medical errors. The University of Missouri, for example, allowed students to assess the risk of falling, which is the most common hospital injury. The patient charts were reviewed by students from different professional tracks and each patient was given a unique fall prevention plan.

Pharmacists in the ER cut down medication errors

An abstract of a study, recently presented at the American Society of Health Systems-Pharmacists meeting, indicates that having a pharmacy team in the emergency department of a hospital can significantly cut down on the number of medical errors caused by incorrect medications or dosages. Among the 185 patients studied prior to the arrival of a pharmacy team in the emergency department, there were 1,750 discrepancies. The most common disparity, occurring in 55 percent of cases, was failures in collecting information on the date and time of the last dosage. A smaller percentage included incorrect orders and omissions. After a pharmacy team was placed in the emergency room, a total of 25 errors occurred. This is a significant drop when compared to the control group, which had 425 errors.

Atlanta hospital faces wrongful infant death lawsuits

Three lawsuits charge an Atlanta medical facility with the alleged wrongful deaths of three infants over a 60-day period during the summer of 2012. The cases include failure to administer cesarean deliveries in a timely manner and a failure to diagnose early labor. The lawsuits include the facility along with several doctors and other medical professionals. A fourth lawsuit is possibly pending for yet an additional wrongful death related to a birth injury of a baby with a nerve disorder.The facility insists that it provides optimum health care to those admitted and cites its established record of almost 50 years in the community. However, the attorney who represents all three mothers believes the facility could have prevented the deaths. The lawsuit will pursue financial compensation for medical expenses, punitive sanctions, pain and suffering, and loss of possible future earnings.

Medical malpractice death rate revealed to be higher in ICU

Pulmonary embolism and myocardial infarction are two potentially fatal medical issues that are missed in nearly 8 percent of adult patients admitted to the ICU, according to findings in 31 autopsy-based studies. The doctor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research feels the findings may even underestimate the actual rate of potential medical malpractice since the study does not include misdiagnoses that did not result in the patient's death.The Goldman Classification, with its four classes of criteria to define errors, was used in this study. A class 1 error is defined as a missed major misdiagnosis that is potentially fatal and would have led to different management of the patient; this serious error accounted for approximately 8 percent of ICU fatalities in the study, and class II errors, defined as missed major diagnoses that were not potentially fatal, accounted for nearly 15 percent of cases. Class III errors denote misdiagnoses related to an underlying terminal, but not moribund, condition. Misdiagnoses unrelated to disease or death comprise the class IV category.

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