In spite of the advances made in research and technology, medical errors are still common nowadays. They are so prevalent that they are the main cause of medical malpractice cases – this is well documented in James Lieber’s report, Killer Care: How Medical Error Became America’s Third Largest Cause of Death, and What Can be Done about It.
However, most medical errors are easily preventable with the proper measures and ideal approach. Following are five potential solutions to this growing problem.
- Develop Detailed Electronic Health Records
One patient can receive treatment from several physicians and/or hospitals. These parties are required to work together especially in the sharing of information to prevent confusion and errors.
Sharing information can be made easier and more reliable through electronic health records (EHR). These records should be stored in one database that can be accessible to different physicians and hospitals when necessary. This will also reduce the time taken for physicians to liaise and consult with each other.
- Involve All Necessary Physicians during Diagnosis
Medicine is a vast profession with numerous specialties. Sometimes it takes the input of different specialists to make a proper diagnosis. Failure to consult with all relevant physicians often leads to a wrong or incomplete diagnosis and sets a precedent for a strong of errors with treatment. As such, it is necessary to involve all the necessary specialists before making a conclusive diagnosis – it is also important to ensure that all the specialists are not afraid to speak out in case of inconsistencies.
- Consult Pharmacists More
Pharmacists are important players in the medicine industry, but they are, unfortunately, mostly overlooked. Pharmacists have extensive knowledge when it comes to medicine, and their input can be helpful when it comes to determining the type and dosage of medicine that should be administered to a particular patient. As such, it may help to make pharmacists more involved in the treatment process by providing them with detailed information about prescriptions and asking for their input whenever necessary.
- Pass Hand-Off Information More Accurately
As mentioned earlier, one patient may be attended to by several physicians. This is especially common when one physician or nurse hands the patient over to another when turning shifts. When doing so, vital information about the patient may become mixed up, thus leading to inconsistency in treatment. In fact, this is said to be one of the main reasons behind medical errors.
As such, there is need to come up with an efficient way of handling information over between physicians.
- Prevent Hospital-Acquired Infections
Health centers should be healthy, but they are, ironically, prone to health hazards since they deal with illnesses. As such, it is not uncommon for patients to contract additional diseases when they visit the hospital. These hospital-contracted diseases are also a major cause of errors in diagnosis and treatment especially if they are not detected early. As such, hospitals should take great care to ensure that their facilities and infrastructures are always clean and disinfected at all times.