Medical Mistakes

  •  Wash hands with soap.  Check.
  • Clean patient’s skin with antiseptic.  Check.
  • Wear sterile mask, gown, and gloves.  Check.
  • Put sterile drapes over  entire patient.  Check.

And that’s all it takes to reduce common infections from medical tubing by 2/3rds.  (12/28/06 study in the New England Journal of Medicine looking at 108 ICUs in Michigan hospitals)  Seems pretty simple.checkup.jpg

Do you remember when the Institute of Medicine put out their study in 1999 that said that 100,000 people died annually from preventable hospital errors?  People were shocked.  The medical profession thought the numbers were too high.  So, I find it more that a little interesting that the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (which includes 3,000 of the 5,000 hospitals in the US) put out a report in 2006 on saying that they had saved over 120,000 lives.  [If that was for 3/5th of the hospitals, I guess that means that about 200,000 people were dying per year in the US due to preventable hospital errors.]

So, it is with mixed emotion that I look at their latest campaign which is the 5M lives campaign to reduce deaths, injuries, and near misses in US hospitals.  Now, I am being a little sensationalistic.  The fact that hospitals are collaborating, sharing information, being transparent, looking for best practices, and trying to improve is great.  Sometimes, it is just shocking what has been going on.  [Imagine the error rates in some 3rd world countries.]

Here is an article from today in the LA Times about this.

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