WebMD article “Hospital Errors May Be More Common Than Thought”

My WebMD feed produced this article by Denise Mann for WebMD Health News. The article discusses research done by David C. Classen, MD, of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Study results, achieved using the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Global Tracker Tool, demonstrated the IHI tool to be a superior tracking method than others being utilized in healthcare environments to measure adverse event occurrences. The FDA, among other healthcare regulatory bodies, define an adverse events to be an “undesirable experience associated with the use of a medical product in a patient” that results in death, serious injury or harm, prolonged hospitalization, disability, surgical intervention, or birth defect.   The IHI “Trigger Tool methodology includes a retrospective review of a random sample of patient records using “triggers” (or clues) to identify possible adverse events” (Griffin & Raser, 2009).

The use of the IHI tracking methods have resulted in the conclusion that hospital errors may be occurring at a higher rate than previously expected – possibly 10 times more common, according to Classen’s article. Classen’s study appears in the April 2011 edition of Health Affairs (Mann, 2011).

Mann lists ways a healthcare consumer can protect themselves and loved ones from falling victim to adverse events.

These are my recommendations:

  • Keep a current listing of medications and dosages available. List medication allergies or known drug reactions.
  • If you have a condition or allergy that warrants the wearing of a medical tag or bracelet, do so at all times.
  • Don’t fear advocating for your healthcare, or that of a loved one. Competent doctors should not fear a questioning or well-informed patient.
  • Before getting major surgery, obtain a second opinion. In ideal conditions, go for a third to be safe.
  • When seeking a procedure, ask the surgeon his or her success rate and experience performing the surgery. If the surgeon or facility lacks experience or success, seek a more qualified surgeon.

Also, remember the Joint Commission’s SPEAK UP: Prevent Errors in Your Care (VIDEO).

You will always be your own advocate… it’s time you find your voice.



4 responses to “WebMD article “Hospital Errors May Be More Common Than Thought”

  1. Endochick,

    I’m not surprised that research is finding adverse events to be more common than previously thought. I know I have experienced adverse events myself (including a surgery that did not go as expected and that resulted in permanent damage).

    Hopefully, this research will lead to much-needed improvements in patient safety.


  2. Thank you for this. I am exhausted from fighting with Kaiser. They have lost my records four times-since January of 2011.

    • Lili,

      Medical record loss is a common problem. This can be more so when hospital’s move from paper to electronic medical records. Or even when they upgrade electronic record systems. Always get copies of your tests and vital doctor’s notes. This can be costly, but imagine if all this information is lost and needed! You have the back up. Plus, many systems can now put everything on digital copy and it’s very inexpensive that way.

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    Community Partners Editor
    Glam Media

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