Medical errors continue to be one of our country’s leading causes of injury and death. Fortunately, medical device entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of Masimo Corporation, Joe Kiani, along with his patient safety group, Patient Safety Movement Foundation, is actively pursuing ways to reduce the number of medical errors resulting in injury or death.
According to the Patient Safety Movement, the number of deaths caused by medical errors now exceeds the number of deaths attributed to vehicle-related accidents, breast cancer and heart failure. An estimated 440,000 deaths and millions of injuries each year are caused by medical errors.
What Actions Are Being Taken to Reduce the Number of Medical Errors?
The Patient Safety Movement has as its goal the implementation of actionable patient safety solutions (APSS) that will bring about zero preventable deaths by 2020. Mr. Kiani is determined to take a stand against this type of medical malpractice. He vehemently believes Congress should pass a law prohibiting Medicare from reimbursing doctors and hospitals for procedures that lead to the accidental death of a patient. He also wants hospitals held accountable for their actions and is certain that transparency among medical practitioners could make a significant difference.
To further his cause, his patient safety group has been hosting an annual summit where patients, healthcare providers, medical technology companies and officials responsible for creating public policies can gather for the purpose of coming up with ideas and drafting strategies that will ultimately reduce the number of deaths caused by avoidable medical errors.
California Senator Barbara Boxer is a steadfast advocate as well. She is not only working to draw attention to the cause, but is actively taking steps to hold hospitals more accountable. The OC Register reports that Sen. Boxer has asked 283 California hospitals to provide her office with detailed information on the actions being taken to reduce on-site medical errors. She has also begun touring many hospitals in the state, including Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), in an effort to make hospital workers and the general public more aware of this widespread problem, and to initiate actions that protect patients. The University of Michigan reports it has been spearheading state efforts to create new statewide standards for children’s medicines, in an effort to dramatically reduce dosage errors.
Is Human Error Largely to Blame?
Close to 80 percent of all negative or injurious events in our healthcare system occur due to human error, the Patient Safety Movement reports. Incorrect diagnoses, improper treatment, failure to provide adequate care and medication errors are largely to blame. There are many instances, however, where it is the system itself causing problems, rather than individual doctor negligence or failures.
One of the factors that has made this growing problem worse is that although hospitals are required to report medical errors as one of the conditions of being paid by Medicare, an investigation conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2012 found the majority of preventable medical errors were not being reported. Those hospitals that do report such errors often do not take the procedural actions necessary after such an incident to prevent them in the future. While some progress is being made in reducing medical errors, there are still many obstacles that must be overcome. And, according to the Patient Safety Movement’s website, “Getting to ZERO will take all of us working together – clinicians, administrators, medical technology companies, payers, government, and patients.”
Patient Safety Movement: http://patientsafetymovement.org/challenges-and-solutions/medication-errors/
Orange County Register: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/hospital-641332-medical-boxer.html
University of Michigan: http://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201402/u-m-leads-state-effort-create-new-standards-kids%E2%80%99-medicine