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Medical Errors

Medical Errors

Wrong surgery, wrong medication, serious bedsores… Unsafe practices and poor quality care kill 98,000 patients each year and waste billions of dollars every year. What information do you have about the safety of your hospital? What protections do you have if the hospital makes a mistake with you?

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  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (April 2014)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Tuesday April 1, 2014)

    Summary from John James: For many around the country spring cannot come too soon. Sadly, spring will not come again for too many Americans who sought only to be healed of their illness, and instead experienced a preventable adverse event that harmed them to death. I am sad for those who lost loved ones in the Oso mudslide and in the Malaysian jet disappearance, but far, far more human lives were cut short by suboptimal medical care. I offer this month’s newsletter as a tribute to all who have been lost in the last month to medical errors. They are nameless like the Unknown Soldier; however, few pay any attention to their passing.

    Newsletter contents this month are as follows:
    • Harm to nursing home patients
    • C diff infections – kids and adults
    • Do you really need a transfusion?
    • White-coat infections
    • Beware high-dose acetaminophen
    • Surgical site infections in out-patients
    • Hospital-dependent patients
    • Infections from endoscopes

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (March 2014)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Friday February 28, 2014)

    Summary from John James: “Spring’s renewal of life has arrived in my neighborhood with robins hopping around and trees budding. I saw a spectacular red-bud tree yesterday near a bayou. One must hope that our country will renew its efforts to intelligently manage the way healthcare is delivered in America. As far as I can tell the non-system is not working well for anyone but a few medical specialists. This month’s newsletter addresses the following topics:

    • Continuing efforts to identify and discontinue worthless tests and treatments
    • The over use of Pap tests in older women
    • The failure of renal artery stenting to add value to optimal medical treatment
    • Welcome evidence that patient safety is improving in some instances
    • Trust and mistrust of medical guidelines
    • The case for less mammography screening
    • Ways smoking can be further reduced
    • Troubled peer review in VA hospitals
    • The case for improving management of obesity in very young children

    I might note that just as this issue was “going to press” the Houston Chronicle ran a front page story called “Preschooler Obesity Plunges.” It explained that there has been a 43% drop in obesity rate in 2-5 year old children during the past decade.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (February 2014)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Sunday February 2, 2014)

    Summary from John James: “The first article in this month’s newsletter describes the new guidelines for management of high blood pressure and the second speaks to new guidelines for healthy living. Both sets of guidelines seem to me to be more realistic than previous ones. In keeping with the guideline theme, the third article summarizes how “patient preferences” could be integrated into evidence-based medical guidelines. This is an important area because patient-centered care must be consistent with your preferences.

    I was surprised to read the complications that result from tonsillectomies, so I wrote about that in the 4th article. Treating healthcare associated infections is expensive; find out how expensive in the 5th article. Informed consent, the subject of the 5th article, is often denied patients, despite the sham paperwork that often accompanies the pre-surgical process. The concluding article summarizes how the perverse incentive of money affects the care received by nursing home patients with advanced dementia and an acute illness. If you are looking after such a person, then you need to be aware of the incentives to over-treat.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (January 2014)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Sunday December 29, 2013)

    Summary by John James: As this traditional holiday season passes into history, I hope you have found peace and joy as you celebrated with family and friends. We face a new year that has many uncertainties, not the least of which is how to get quality, affordable healthcare. My January newsletter is probably not going to help you feel better about those uncertainties.
    The lead feature this month is a book review of “How We Do Harm” by Otis Brawley, MD. The other articles are as follows:

    • A new way to dramatically improve care in a children’s hospitals
    • Medical care that refuses to bend to evidence-based guidelines
    • The cost of lost lives from having no health insurance
    • The possible health benefit of eating nuts
    • Over-diagnosis of lung cancer
    • A proposal to deal with Medicaid patients
    • Dealing with seasonal weight gain

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (December 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Sunday December 8, 2013)

    Summary from John James: “December’s newsletter is a little late due in part to a long and joyful visit of my daughter’s family. Her two little children remind me that there is a good reason why old folks are not new parents – insufficient energy! These little ones also remind me that each generation must pass along better ways to the next generation. Automobile safety, industrial safety, and aviation safety have improved greatly since the days when I was a young man with small children, yet the safety of medical care has lagged other industries. This month I emphasize some reasons for that situation: lack of patient access to information, perverse incentives that drive up costs and put patients in harm’s way, costs that cause harm to people who cannot afford care, insufficient evaluations of hospital quality, failure to help patients with addictive behaviors, barriers to transparency, and inadequate management of hospital patient loads. Yes, it’s all a mess.”