We have previously written on this blog about the results of an annual survey conducted by The Leapfrog Group, which rates hospitals according to how well they avoid medical errors and patient harm in the delivery of health care services. The survey is aimed at helping consumers of health care services to evaluate the quality of care they are seeking and to encourage providers and health care systems to improve their safety performance.
In our last post, we began speaking about the persistence of surgical errors despite efforts to prevent them. Wrong-site, wrong-procedure and wrong-patient errors are particularly concerning because of the serious impact they can have on the patients involved.
Getting a surgical procedure can be a nerve-racking experience for many people, not only because surgery has its own inherent risks, but also because most the public is aware of the fact that surgeons and other health care providers are not perfect and do occasionally make mistakes.
An important task for any surgical residency program is how to evaluate the skills of its surgeons in training. Thorough and effective training, of course, ensures surgeons are equipped to succeed in their work and that patients entrusted to their case will receive competent care.
Mistakes can happen in any medical or surgical procedure, and even the most skilled of physicians don’t perform perfectly with every patient. Sometimes mistakes have little to no long-term effect, and are nothing to worry about. In other cases, the long-term effects are significant. In some cases, the short-term consequences are significant but the problem can be fixed at a cost.
Toward the end of 2011, a hospital in another state began doing heart surgery on infants. By June 2015, no less than nine babies died at the hospital. Michigan readers might be relieved to know that -- finally, in Aug. 2015 -- the program was shut down due to the inordinate amount of surgical errors that led to those deaths.
According to a recent study led by a researcher from the University of Utah School of Medicine, patients who suffer from complications after a surgery do best to return to the hospital where the surgery occurred rather than having the problem addressed somewhere else. The study said that returning to the facility where the surgery occurred reduced the risk of death over the following two months.
Although we live in a country that offers some of the best health care services in the world, many of us don’t think too much about the possibility that we could be injured by our doctors. Mistakes in medical care do happen, though. In some cases, mistakes are just part of the risk of a course of care. In surgery, for instance, there is the possibility that a patient will have a bad reaction to anesthesia, or that he or she could develop an infection, despite proper care from providers.
An ophthalmologist recently agreed to pay the federal government $1.4 million to settle a lawsuit against him concerning the False Claims Act.
Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (CJD) is an untreatable brain disease affecting one in one million people each year. It is thankful that CJD is rare, because it is often regarded as the human version of "mad cow" disease, quickly transforming healthy brain proteins into unhealthy cells. This is what makes news from a North Carolina hospital so disturbing.