Hospitals Can be Dangerous to Your Health

As America becomes more modernized, we would like to think hospitals are a place for healing and safety however, researchers from Harvard Medical School performed a six year study only to find that hospital errors continue.

A majority of the harm and damage was not life threatening, however the study found that a projected 15,000 Medicare patients die monthly as a result of hospital care.

Lead author Dr. Christopher Landrigan who studied the data of more than 2,300 patient admissions records from 10 North Carolina hospitals between 2002 to 2007 said the results likely reflect what’s happening nationwide.

“What has been done right is that regulatory agencies have begun prioritizing patient safety,” said Landrigan, an assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine at Harvard Medical School. “But these efforts have largely been a patchwork of unconnected efforts and so far have not been as strong as they can be.”

Slightly more than half of the errors were avoidable, Landrigan said. “These harms are still very common, and there’s no evidence that they’re improving,” he said. “The problem is that the methods that have been best proven to improve care have not been implemented across the nation.”

The problem is it can be very difficult to change “long-established” work practices. “In order to change the way we do things, we have to work effectively as teams, and to become a good team is difficult in healthcare because that’s not how it’s set up, that’s not how we train our doctors,” said Lucian Leape, a health policy analyst at Harvard University and adviser for the recent study.

Authors believe the taking steps like limiting the hours for which medical residents are allowed to work in a single shift as well as computerizing patient records and drug prescription orders could help along with implementation of surgical checklists in order to prevent infections.

The authors concluded, “In a study of 10 North Carolina hospitals, we found that harms remain common, with little evidence of widespread improvement. Further efforts are needed to translate effective safety interventions into routine practice and to monitor health care safety over time.”

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