In spite of the fact that the United States spends more on healthcare than any other developed nation, the quality of health care remains low. In order to improve the quality of care, it is necessary to consider the potential role of medical errors in the context of patient safety. Medical errors have been thoroughly studied as one of the major factors contributing to unfavorable outcomes.
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An article by John James seeks to evaluate the number of deaths associated with medical errors. A literature search, conducted by the author, included scientific studies, published between 2008 and 2011, which included statistics on mortality rates associated with medical errors (James, 2013, p. 122). The lower limit turned out to be 210,000 deaths per year, and it was estimated that at least 400,000 patients die prematurely due to medical errors, such as medication stop orders of inaccurate laboratory tests results (James, 2013, p. 122).
In addition to patient outcomes, it is important to consider the economic effects of medical errors. The research team headed by Van Den Bos uses an actuarial approach to project the costs associated with improper medical management (Van Den Bos et al., 2011, p. 596). The researchers estimate that the annual cost of medical errors was $17.1 billion in 2008 (Van Den Bos et al., 2011, p. 596). The research shows that it is important to consider improving patient safety as a part of the strategy to minimize rising healthcare expenditures.
A research paper by Nieva and Sorra aims to explore the role of organizational factors on patient safety. The researchers evaluate the potency of safety culture assessment as a part of the patient safety improvement strategy (Nieva & Sorra, 2003, p. 17). The authors conclude that safety culture assessments can be used to find out what organizational conditions contribute to medical errors and as a tool for change initiatives evaluation (Nieva & Sorra, 2003, p. 21).
A research paper by Pascale Carayon et al. uses the human factors system approach to addressing the issue of healthcare quality and patient safety. In the paper, “the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety” model is proposed as a solution to the concerns of quality improvement through work systems redesign (Carayon et al., 2014). The researchers evaluate the effects of work systems design on the quality of care and conclude that while multiple system elements have implications for patient safety, the ambiguity in current patient care guidelines affects compliance with them (Carayon et al., 2014).
The effect of changes in patient care guidelines is the focus of the research paper by Starmer et al. In a six-month period, the researchers conducted “a prospective systems-based intervention study on inpatient units at nine pediatric residency training programs,” collected and statistically analyzed patient data gathered before and after the period. The researchers found out that the implementation of the new patient guidelines aimed specifically at improving patient safety resulted in 23% reduction in medical error rates (Starmer et al., 2014).
The effects of a multifaceted handoff program on medical errors rate and patient outcomes are the focus of another research done by Starmer et al. A computerized handoff tool was introduced in order to reduce the number of medical errors as part of the study (Starmer et al., 2013, p. 2262). As a result of the handoff program, the rate of medical errors was reduced from 33.8 per 100 admissions to 18.3 per 100 admissions (Starmer et al., 2013, p. 2262).
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In spite of the fact that a lot of governmental effort is currently focused on improving the quality of care, the issue of medical errors remains underrated.
Carayon, P., Wettereck, T., Rivera-Rodriguez, A., Hundt, A., Holden, R., & Gurses, A. (2014). Human factors systems approach to healthcare quality and patient safety. Applied Ergonomics, 45(1), 14-25. Web.
James, J. (2013). A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care. Journal of Patient Safety, 9(3), 122-128. Web.
Nieva, V., & Sorra, J. (2003). Safety culture assessment: a tool for improving patient safety in healthcare organizations. Quality & Safety in Health Care, 12(2), 17-23. Web.
Starmer, A., Sectish, T., Simon, D., Keohane, C., McSweeney, M., Chung, E.,…Landrigan, C. (2013). Rates of Medical Errors and Preventable Adverse Events Among Hospitalized Children Following Implementation of a Resident Handoff Bundle. JAMA, 310(21), 2262-2270. Web.
Starmer, A., Spector, N., Srivastava, R., West, D., Rosenbluth, G., Allen, A.,…Landrigan, C. (2014). Changes in Medical Errors after Implementation of a Handoff Program. The New England Journal of Medicine, 371, 1803-1812. Web.
Van Den Bos, J., Rustagi, K., Gray, T., Halford, M., Ziemkiewicz, E., & Shreve, J. (2011). The $17.1 Billion Problem: The Annual Cost Of Measurable Medical Errors. Health Affairs, 30(4), 596-603. Web.