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Prevent Medical Errors by Punishing Habitual Offenders

Patient Safety experts at Johns Hopkins are taking their prescription for avoiding medical errors at hospitals beyond the “no fault, no blame” approaches. They are now calling for penalties for doctors and nurses who fail to comply with proven safety measures. The experts believe that penalties should apply when current “no blame” practices designed to prevent recurrences stall, and after warnings and counseling have failed to change health care workers’ behavior. The experts state that since medical mistakes continue to occur, its time to add some accountability and enforcement policies to address and stop unsafe practices. They are beginning a study hoping to decrease the 100,000 yearly deaths in the United States from infections picked up by people while undergoing treatment. Under their new system, health care workers who persistently fail to wash their hands before entering a patient’s room would be required to undergo mandatory training and re-education classes. Repeated failure to use and sign surgical checklists when inserting catheters would be punished as well. The medical world needs to understand that the right balance between no blame and individual accountability is that doing so will save lives. To read more about individual accountability, please click the link.