what are hospitals doing to improve the safety of surgical patients

In recognition of the fact that so-called “adverse medical events” can cause harm to their professional reputation and their bottom line, more and more hospitals across the U.S. are now implementing innovative measures designed to keep patients safe and minimize the fallout from medical mistakes.

If you think that hospitals are perhaps being overly cautious and that most places are generally as safe as they need to be, you should perhaps consider the following statistics from both Johns Hopkins, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Statistics from these esteemed medical institutions reveal the following:

  • On average, surgeons here in the U.S. mistakenly leave foreign objects (sponges, towels, instruments, etc.) inside patients 39 times per week.
  • On average, surgeons here in the U.S. mistakenly operate on the wrong patient or perform the wrong surgical procedure 20 times per week.
  • On average, surgeons here in the U.S. mistakenly operate at the wrong site 20 times per week.

Consider also that statistics show that as recently as 2013, there were 157,000 surgical-site infections.

What then are some of the aforementioned innovative measures that hospitals are taking to combat staggering numbers like these and other well-documented medical risks to surgical patients?

For starters, many hospitals are now choosing to lay the foundation for a safe surgical procedure by putting the focus on the patients themselves.

Specifically, they are identifying high-risk patients ahead of time and, if medically possible, delaying their procedures to help them better prepare for their procedure whether it means assistance with smoking cessation, weight loss, blood sugar control or a host of other issues.

These efforts aren’t just limited to the pre-op period, however, as hospitals are also working to ensure that certain patient precautions are in place immediately before and after the procedure. This often includes having patients bathe with an antiseptic wash the day before their surgery, and making sure they are out of bed and moving after their surgery to prevent blood clots.

We’ll continue to discuss more of these patient safety initiatives in our next post.

If some type of hospital negligence has left you or a loved one with serious injuries and more questions than answers, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “How to make surgery safer,” Laura Landro, Feb. 16, 2015 

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