The Houston Chronicle reports disturbing news on the state of healthcare safety and reform. They reported that:
“Experts estimate that a staggering 98,000 people die from preventable medical errors each year”
“A federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study concluded that 99,000 patients a year succumb to hospital-acquired infections. Almost all of those deaths, experts say, also are preventable.”
Not only do almost 200,000 people a year die from preventable errors or infections acquired in hospitals, but, according to expert federal analysts, the rate of these deaths may actually be increasing. Part of the problem is that the recommendations provided by experts, federal and private studies and various other resources are not being implemented quickly – or at all.
Some people think that the root cause analysis investigation process ends when solutions are recommended. In fact, the hardest part may be just beginning. There’s a reason we refer to solutions as “action items” – they require action. They also require follow-up.
Proper follow-up will determine if solutions are being effectively implemented, i.e. the problem is being solved. In this case, that would be the number of medical errors are decreasing. Since that’s not happening, the next step is to determine why the action items were ineffective. Right now, the recommended action items aren’t effective because they aren’t being implemented.
An organization can only effectively implement solutions that are within its sphere of influence. Medicare, for example, is attempting to influence medical errors by using its most effective weapon – its pocketbook. Medicare is no longer reimbursing for certain medical errors, and hopes to add to the list. As many private insurers follow suit, more healthcare facilities will find it necessary to change the way they do business . . . and then hopefully the medical error rate will begin to decrease.
Learn more about finding solutions.