March 15, 2018 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

Patient Safety Awareness – Opportunities for Change in 2018

Medical error not only causes serious complications for patients, it also creates an incredible financial burden in the United States. A study from John Hopkins suggests that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, with upwards of 250,000 deaths annually. Another study by the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI)  estimates that approximately 16.4 billion is spent annually on inpatient preventable medication errors and 4.2 billion is spent  annually on outpatient medical errors. The same study went on to point out that dosing errors make up 37% of preventable medical errors, and drug allergies or harmful drug interaction make up for 11%. Other common types of preventable harm include hospital-acquired infections, surgical errors, and misdiagnosis. Shockingly, NEHI proposes that only 4% of physicians reported using an EMR system that is described as fully functional and with a prescribing function.

With this said, patient safety awareness continues to grow and there are plenty of opportunities to make changes to ensure better patient safety. The best place to start is by coordinating care strategies with all medical parties involved with a patient’s journey. We have a few recommendations that can help make the coordination process simpler.

  1. Facilitate Patient Engagement
    • Actively interacting with patients and their families can reduce medication errors. Making sure that patients and families are onboard with the prescribed treatment and the patient’s safety checklists helps to ensure dosing errors don’t occur. Patients also should be communicated with regarding any resource that gives them information about the purpose, effects, and side effects of their medication.
    • As proposed in the study by NEHI, “Adopt Joint Commission recommendations for medical reconciliation, ensuring that medications are reconfirmed and reviewed with the patient at each transition in care.”
  2. Enhance Internal Communication Pathways
    • Improved communication among physicians, pharmacists, and nurses massively reduces medical error. Due to the complexity of a medical environment and the multiple points of care, staying adamant about communicating clearly can make a significant difference. This may seem like a basic suggestion, but people have been pointing to communication as a leader in error for decades.
  3. Use Software/Technology That Safeguards Medical Tasks
    • Like Net Health’s AgilityEH™, your software should cover multiple bases including:
      1. E-prescribing and Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) to prevent prescription drug errors. Errors can occur from handwriting mistakes, incorrect allergy alerts, drug interactions, and more. An E-prescribing system also reduces the number of lost prescriptions.
      2. Tools and necessary documentation elements to comply with the requirements set forth by The Joint Commission.
      3.  In-depth patient education – software needs to provide discharge instructions, medication instructions, and information explaining conditions that you can give to your patient.



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