News Corner: Top Patient Safety Concerns for 2016

In the last five years, much progress was made in addressing top patient safety concerns in hospitals. Hospital-acquired condition rates have dropped along with patient deaths. However, despite numerous activities and campaigns seeking to eliminate, or largely limit, medical errors last year, hospitals still contain many threats to patient safety. To help healthcare facilities identify where they should focus patient safety efforts in 2016, Becker’s Hospital Review compiled a list of what they believe are the top patient safety issues.

Medication Errors

Despite being largely preventable thanks to new advances in medication administration and automation, medication errors are one of the most common inpatient errors. A recent study has revealed the prevalence of medication errors during surgeries. Implementing additional automation that incorporates bedside scanning can reduce the risk of error at the point of medication removal and distribution.

Diagnostic Errors

A 2015 report from the Institute of Medicine illuminated the staggering rate of diagnostic errors, with these mistakes accounting for up to 17% of hospital adverse events and 10% of patient deaths. The report includes suggestions on how to reduce this rate by working more closely with patients and encouraging greater collaboration among care providers.

Discharge Practices to Post-Acute, Home Care

Transitions of care have been an area of focus for decades. With the rising importance of value-based care, better management of care transitions is now paramount. Improving how patients are managed after discharge is critical in preventing patient readmission to the hospital (and the costly penalties that ensue).

Hospitals are increasingly offering discharge planning and counseling before the patient leaves the hospital. Additionally, medication adherence tools can ensure patients are better managing their conditions at home.

Workplace Safety

In order for patients to feel safe in the hospital, many experts believe workers must also feel secure in the environment. If they are worried about or affected by issues such as needlestick injuries, injuries caused by lifting patients, and even potential assaults from patients, their concerns can affect their ability to focus their full energy on the patient.

Going Transparent with Quality Data

With the rising importance of HCAHPS scores and the increased role of patient satisfaction and patient experience in reimbursement decisions, hospitals frequently query patients upon discharge, which provides a wealth of insightful data.

To improve patient safety and inform decision making, many patient experts are urging hospitals to publish this data online for consumer consideration. They believe that greater transparency will foster stronger accountability and lead to improvements in patient safety.

Additional Areas of Improvement

In addition to the points above, Becker’s top patient safety issues for 2016 also include:

  • Hospital Facility Safety—such as building and maintenance issues (e.g. sewage leaks and ventilation issues)
  • Reprocessing Issues—as highlighted by recent problems in disinfecting medical scopes
  • Sepsis—a serious and costly issue that has been gradually increasing
  • “Super” Superbugs—necessitating an increased focus on antibiotic stewardship
  • Cyber-insecurity of Medical Devices—which have proven to be hackable

Is there a patient safety area you’re planning to focus on in 2016? Feel free to share your perspective in the Comments section below.

Related Articles:

Transform Healthcare

The New York Times

Becker’s Hospital Review

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