A study, the findings of which appeared in a medical journal, The BMJ revealed that 12% of preventable medical errors were the cause of patient’s death or permanent disability. The study involved analysis of 70 earlier studies that provided data mainly on 337,025 adult patients with about 28,150 among them undergoing harmful experiences of which 15,419 could have been prevented. The study which related to occurrence and the depth of patient harm was vast in scope.
The extent of harm was categorized as ‘mild’ which accounted for 49%; moderate, accounting for 36% and severe, accounting for about 12%. The categorization based on the causes of harm comprised as 49% due to therapy and drug related reasons, 23% due to surgical procedures and 16% because of health care issues and infections resulting from diagnoses.
Experts have revealed that there is no one key solution for lessening medical errors. The reduction can be achieved to a certain degree by having engagement between patient and staff and consistent focus of the management in this context in addition to resorting to technology in some cases.
Certain changes have been made by several hospitals in reducing these numbers like creating registries for measuring the varied types of harms and allowing for comparison of every hospital with other institutions in this regard. Patients should interact with their physicians to get explanations on every issue concerning their health and so do the patient’s families. Monitoring of certain fundamental issues like checking for use of the correct protective gear and washing of hands to ensure prevention of infections was a must. Use of checklists was an effective mode in this context. They led the concerned individuals to reflect for a minute on the happenings in the event. In any case, the patient had to get clarification on any issue that caused unease or discomfort to him. Patients had to become their own advocates as one step forward towards reducing the incidence of medical errors.