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POSTS TAGGED "patient safety"

Lack of Adequate Staffing at Hospitals Is Not Only Factor in Patient Care

 Hospitals are not exempt from the financial pressures all companies face. Hospitals have cut their budgets by staffing less nurses at one time. This may save money, but it does not save lives. Everyone has the right to proper medical care, and inadequate staffing levels definitely can lead to sub-par levels of care.

But simply not having enough staff available during a shift is not the only thing that contributes to patient safety concerns, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Poor staffing decisions can also lead to morale problems among nurses and aides, which, in turn, can trickle down and effect patient care.

Fewer nurses means that every nurse has a bigger workload and faces unending pressures. This often can lead to burnout. Nurses become disillusioned with their jobs and may not pay attention or care about their work. And this often causes mistakes, lowers the overall quality of hospitals, and makes it difficult to keep skilled employees.

New York's Reporting System for Hospital Errors Leaves Patients in the Dark

 Reporting of adverse events and hospital errors has always been less than accurate due to the fact that few federal regulations exist. In New York, it is even more difficult for patients to determine whether a hospital has a high rate of incidents, due to the NYPORTS program: New York Patient Occurrence Reporting and Tracking System. Under the program "adverse events" in New York can be kept secret.

The system was established by New York law and requires hospitals and other health-care facilities to report negligent acts, such as botched surgeries, medication mistakes and mysterious deaths. But buried deep into a hard drive state filing system, the information is essentially kept from the public. Take for example, a C-section surgery that was performed in 2007. It turns out that the woman was not pregnant. The medical mistake was reported through NYPORTS, but was never revealed in any public record. According to video depositions, the improper surgery was performed at New York Downtown Hospital in Lower Manhattan - but most surgical patients will never know of the hospital's negligence.

According to the New York State Health Department, hospitals have confidentially reported more than 40,000 "adverse events" since 2007, but a profile search of hospitals reveal only a fraction of these reports are open to the public. The botched C-section surgery is not included in the reports, even though hospitals are required to report medical errors within 24 hours of their occurrence.

The "Weekend Effect" Holds True for Head Injury Victims: Higher Likelihood of a Fatality When Admitted on the Weekend

 Just over a month ago, we blogged about so-called "July Effect," which suggests that July can be the worst time for a patient to enter the hospital since that is when all of the new interns enter. It raised an interesting question as to whether there are other times of the year, month, week or even day that tend to be a bit risky for hospital patients.

According to a study done by researchers from John Hopkins, it appears that there are patterns in patient care, and the odds of death for patients admitted on the weekend is higher than those who are admitted during the week.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Surgical Research, reviewed over 38,000 records of patients who had suffered head trauma. It found head injuries admitted on the weekend, even if it was less severe of a head injury, were more likely to prove fatal. The results were not a surprise to many health care professionals, as previous studies have already established a well-known "weekend effect" when it comes to heart attacks, strokes and aneurisms.

Hospital Safety Ratings, Now Brought To You By Consumer Reports

 When thinking about buying a new car, you can turn to Consumer Reports when you're evaluating the safety features of a given model. If that is the case with a major purchase, shouldn't you have similar options when making a major medical decision?

The good news is that now you basically can. For the first time, Consumer Reports has rated hospitals for safety. Now when you're looking to select healthcare providers or undergo a surgical procedure you can evaluate the safety records of the hospitals you are considering going to. Thanks to data provided by government agencies, independent organizations, medical literature, personal interviews with patients and medical staff and safety experts, you can review the standardized safety ratings to make more educated decisions before you put your life in the hands of a doctor.

The statistics of putting your life - literally - in the hands of your doctor are not very comforting.

Adding Photos to E-Records Could Help Prevent Medical Mistakes From Occurring

 Hospitals and doctors are generally on the lookout for ideas that will help prevent medical mistakes from occurring. While not all ideas are cost-effective or easy to implement, often times even very simple ideas could make a significant difference when it comes to reducing hospital and surgical errors.

One such solution of late is putting children's photos on their on their electronic hospital charts.

New Technology Keeps Surgical Sponges Out of Patients

 In 2009, the well-known Mayo Clinic began using SurgiCount, a new safety technology designed to combat the mistake of leaving surgical sponges inside surgery patients. The system relies on an electronic bar code reader much like a supermarket grocery scanner. The reader tracks a bar code assigned to each packet of sponges and each individual sponge within a package. Nurses scan the package before each procedure and each sponge after the operation. In addition, the nurses manually count the surgical sponges - the traditional method of tracking sponges.

Medical experts say the system is convenient, easy to use and cheap, at just $2 per operation. One expert noted that by preventing just one mistake, the system more than pays for itself.

Off-Label Marketing of Drugs Leads to More Trouble for Health Giant J&J

 Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the world's second-largest manufacturer of health products, has been the subject of an ongoing federal civil investigation involving the company's marketing practices for its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Reports of J&J misleading over 6,000 doctors in Arkansas about the effectiveness of Risperdal comes on the heels of J&J's current negotiations with the federal government to settle for its off-label marketing of the drug.

Unauthorized marketing of drugs is a common problem across the country, with companies like Johnson & Johnson marketing them for "off-label" purposes. Although doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs for off-label purposes, companies that make the drugs are required by law to only market them for uses that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Marketing drugs for off-label purposes can harm people who use medications. Taking medications for off-label purposes is often dangerous and ineffective, resulting in serious, unintended consequences. It is important that patients talk to their doctors about the intended purposes of the medications they take. And as more information comes to light about the injury risks associated with medications such as these, it may be possible to file a defective drug lawsuit for damages.

Improving Patient Care in New York Hospitals Through Federal Funding

 A federal contract for $7.59 million was recently awarded to the NYS Partnership for Patients (NYSPFP) program in order to fund efforts across the state to reduce hospital readmissions and "preventable patient harm" by decreasing the number of errors made in emergency rooms, by doctors and nurses, and with medications.

The federal funding is part of 2010's Affordable Care Act - $1 billion in funding was pledged for Partnership for Patients programs nationwide. In New York, the program is being headed by the Healthcare Association of New York State and Greater New York Hospital Association. Together these two associations represent all of the hospitals throughout the state - including large academic medical centers in urban areas and smaller hospitals in rural areas.

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