Medical errors are killing some 100,000 Americans every year. Anyone can easily determine by seeing through this figure of death toll, that if the most developed country of the world is going through such health crisis, then what healthcare and safety problems world is facing. Especially the developing countries all over the world, who don’t have resources and the education to get rid of these preventable medical errors. This precise and targeted information will surely create a lease of hope for the people globally.
To err is human, to forgive is divine. While this may apply in general, forgiving, forgetting or ignoring errors in medicine isn’t acceptable, since consequences could be disastrous.
Errors in medicine, then, are evidence that something has gone wrong in patient and community healthcare and that something has caused harm and should be prevented and corrected.
A medical error is a product of various “external” circumstances, including the environment, working conditions, and pressures, rapidly evolving technology; and managerial, administrative, or system functioning.
Medical errors are not limited to diagnosis or treatment decisions. They may occur at any stage of medical work: assessing the risk of disease, understanding its causes, and effectiveness of intervention to prevent or cure or otherwise control health problem or its prognosis at an individual or at community level.
The biggest cause of medical errors is LACK of Awareness
The greatest barrier to improving patient safety is a lack of awareness of the extent to which medical errors occur in all health care organizations.
It is difficult to remedy problems that are not known to exist.
This lack of awareness occurs because, in most cases, errors are not reported.
Reporting of errors should be developed in six stages as a culture for their recognition, acknowledgment, recording, reporting, analysis and a reflective response within a just and flexible learning environment.
How can anyone help protect himself against medical errors?
The distinct way to prevent medical errors is to be an active member of your health care treatment which means to take part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. Here are some BE-SAFE tips which strengthen the prevention measures of medical errors;
Beware, Be Cautious and Be Careful
Errors do happen. You are the best link in preventing medical and medication errors. Be alert: Pause, Ask, Question and Confirm before opting for any medical or health care problem.
Education is a Must!
Before you need health care or hospital services, seek information and tips about health care. Learn the basics of error prevention in case of an emergency. Learn about your illness or injury. Use health care community services or professional organizations to become educated about your condition. Talk to your doctor or health care professional about your treatments and tests.
Speak up for yourself
Tell your doctor, your nurse, or any person giving you medicine about your allergies. Tell your doctor and health care workers about your medical history, illnesses, surgeries and injuries. Make a written list of all your medicines, vitamins, herbs and supplements. List the amounts of medicines you take and the times that you take them. Bring the list with you when you receive health care or hospital services. Keep the list current.
Act promptly, when there is a need!
Take action. If something is out of place, take steps to stop or fix the situation. If the situation is not resolved, ask other professionals. If something seems unusual about your medication or medical procedure/ treatment, take action. Ask your nurse, doctor or the pharmacist.
Facts and Side Effects, Know them for your Health & Safety
When undergoing surgery or a procedure or going into the hospital, get the facts about what to expect. Talk to your doctor about the details of what will happen and what are the side effects or complications you should watch out for. Know who and when to if something is wrong or suspicious happen.
Error-Free Environment, Your Contribution is Essential
Work with patient safety groups to help reduce medical errors. Help identify hidden dangers. Tell your doctor or health care professional if you see something that causes concern. You can help to prevent medical errors.
Conclusion and Recommendations!
Preventing medical errors is a pre-requisite for developing a safer healthcare system; the medical errors are not acceptable and cannot be tolerated any longer. Despite the cost pressures, accountability restraints, confrontation to change and other seemingly overwhelming barriers, it is simply not acceptable for patients to be harmed by the same healthcare system that is supposed to offer that assurance and security to public.
Recommendations are for the external environment to create sufficient pressure to make errors costly to healthcare organizations and providers, so they are compelled to take action to improve safety. At the same time there is a need to enhance knowledge and tools to improve safety and break down legal and cultural barriers that impede safety improvement.