Tweeted! Why U.S. Hospitals aren’t nearly as Safe as you Think…

Scanning rapidly through my Twitter feed a short while ago, I ran across a tweet from Fareed Zakaria (CNN) that said “The U.S. ranks last out of 19 developed countries in preventable deaths in hospitals.”  Clicking the link, I wound up at CNN World’s public blog site, Global Public Square, where some rather damning findings were presented in an e-pamphlet.

On the off-chance that a journalistic investigation of patient safety and medical errors is an outcome, patients, families, local press and others will likely have many questions for front line health care professionals and administrators.  Leveraging this onslaught of publicity and using it as an opportunity to empower patients to take an interest in their safety would be a positive outcome.  Educating patients, family members and local communities of steps taken to improve patient safety over the years would be another. 

Bar coding of medications, introduction of checklists, Timeouts, Physician Order entry implementation, clinical pharmacy monitoring programs, medication reconciliation processes and alarm awareness are all examples of the types of patient safety initiatives that should be shared with patients and the community.

From CNN.com’s Global Public Square Blogs site:

Some staggering stats:

  • The U.S. ranks last out of 19 developed countries in preventable deaths in hospitals.
  • You are 33,000 times more likely to die from a hospital error than a plane crash.
  • 1 in 5 patients in the U.S. suffer harm from medical errors.
  • 7,000 people are killed each year by medication errors – giving the wrong pill or too much of the right pill.
  • 1.7 million infections are contracted in the hospital each year.

Some of the information in the graphic appearing on the site is a little simplistic and perhaps in need of additional nuancing, but it is powerful and to i’s authors credit is bound to generate discussion around patient safety in US hospitals, thus increasing awareness of the subject and hopefully resulting in an even greater emphasis on safety in all areas of healthcare.

References and Links:

e-pamphlet: The Hazards of Hospitals

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