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Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for 2020

Each year, the nonprofit ECRI Institute puts out a “Top 10 Patient Safety Concern Executive Brief” aimed to bring a heightened awareness for a better continuum of care and stronger accountability for U.S. health care systems. The annual top 10 report ranks patient safety concerns in all health care settings and designed to help organizations identify dangerous patient safety challenges and offers suggestions and resources for addressing them.

The list for 2020 includes:

What Is The Worst Medical Malpractice Case
In 2017, a jury sent ex-neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch, aka Dr. D and Dr. Death, to life in prison for botched surgeries that resulted in two deaths and multiple cases of paralysis. Prosecutors said Duntsch’s surgical outcomes were so poor, so beyond the accepted standard of care, that a grand jury indicted him on five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as well as a one count of harming an elderly patient. Using information gathered in a yearlong investigation to prove his gross malpractice, attorneys identified more than 30 patients at the four hospitals who were harmed due to his carelessness in just over 18 months.:

  • Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano: A patient bled to death after Duntsch punctured a major artery during surgery. Another was left quadriplegic.
  • Dallas Medical Center: A woman died of a stroke after a routine operation.

access to medical records

Changes to An Individuals’ Right of Access to Health Records 

In January 2018, Georgia-based Ciox Health filed suit against the Department of Health and Human Services, arguing that some sections of the HIPAA Right of Access rules around third-party requests for patient records are impermissible under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Fast forward two years this month when a federal judge in the District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the “third-party directive” within the individual right of access “insofar as it expands the HITECH Act’s third-party directive beyond requests for a copy of an electronic health record with respect to protected health information (“PHI”) of an individual … in an electronic format.”

Additionally, the court held that the fee limitation should only apply to an individual’s request for access to their records, and does not apply to an individual’s request to transmit health documents to a third party.

Legalized Marijuana

Patient Harm at the Hands of Impaired Clinicians

Many reports on the issue of drug and alcohol use among those in the medical profession have found that substance abuse is widespread. However, rigorous standards are in place to keep patients safe from negligently “high” doctors. But recently adding to the issue is the possible impact the legalization of sales and recreational use of marijuana in Illinois may have on a physician’s performance. Undoubtedly, some doctors and health care professionals are likely to take a personal interest in the consumption of legal pot, especially as environmental triggers and workplace stressors commonly felt by overworked medical professionals are known to drive a person toward chemical or substance dependencies.

We hope that these practitioners appreciate the boundaries related to performing the duty of care owed to their patients and that they understand some users may be incapable of fulfilling that duty and as a result – cause harm to their patients.

medical errors

13 Ways to Protect Yourself from Medical Errors 

A newly released study highlighted the striking rise in preventable medical errors of more than 300,000 adult patients was published on July 17, 2019 in the medical journal, The BMJ. The data collected represented 1 in 10 patients harmed in the course of their medical care, half of which were preventable.

The study found:

As Malpractice Laws Changes, Patient Safety Concerns Grow

The 12th edition of Medical Malpractice: By The Numbers is now open for review and examines the latest statistics, facts, and research concerning unsafe hospitals, preventable patient injuries, negligent clinicians, and medical errors. Authored by the Center for Justice & Democracy at New York Law School (CJ&D) researchers say the 172-page volume includes over 500 linked footnotes and sources and was released at a time when laws are making it harder for patients and their families to place accountability on wrong-doing hospitals and incompetent physicians.

Briefing book statistics are shared for topics such as:

chicago hospital ratings

Medical Mistakes, Deadly Infections, and Dangerous Safety Concerns Rise at Chicago’s Low-Ranking Hospitals

It is probably well assumed that if you visit a low-rated anything, whether it be a restaurant, hotel, or even law firm, your experience may not be the best. Unfortunately, the same goes for the one place you would expect experience ratings to always be high – your local hospital.

A new analysis based on data collected from about 2,600 U.S. hospitals since 2016 by non-profit Leapfrog, a group responsible for issuing letter grades to hospitals based on safety and quality, show patients are at considerable risk for personal injuries when receiving care from a poorly graded health system. Leapfrog provides public information graded on a scale of A thru F about things such as medical errors, infections, and injuries. The organization is often viewed tougher than the federal government’s hospital watchdogs.

understaffed hospital

Westlake Hospital Stays Open for Now, Community Leaders Say There Are Not Enough Staff to Care for Patients 

By court order, Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park is to stay open and keep patient safety a top concern. Previously, a Cook County Circuit Court judge granted Melrose Park a temporary restraining order, prohibiting Pipeline Health (owners of Westlake) from further minimizing services or staffing after they had announced the hospital would no longer be admitting new patients and transferring others.

But local lawmaker Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch of Westchester says that despite the newest court order to stay open and treat patients, Pipeline Health is still “turning employees and staff away.”

“Safety advocates said that without access to public data, it has been too easy for hospitals to excuse poor outcomes by blaming mothers’ health problems.”

-USA Today

Hospitals Blame Mothers When Things Go Wrong

pain medication overdose

Health System, Intensive Care Doctor, Pharmacist, and Nurse All Sued for Giving Excessive Doses of Powerful Pain Medicine

An Ohio hospital system has been at the center of intense scrutiny after one of its former intensive care doctors is said to have ordered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of “comfort” pain medicine for at least 27 near-death patients over the course of several years. One family is suing the health system as well as the doctor, pharmacist, and nurse responsible for allegedly giving an improper dose of fentanyl to their 79-year-old family member even though they had asked that lifesaving measures be stopped. Fentanyl, also known as Actiq, Duragesic or Sublimaze, is an especially potent painkiller used to treat extreme pain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strains of fentanyl can be up to 50 times more powerful than morphine.

Although the hospital, part of the larger Mount Carmel Health System, has since acknowledged the doses in many similar patient cases were larger than needed. A legal team will now investigate as to whether the acts were intentional, and if the lethal drugs were possibly used improperly to accelerate the patients’ deaths.

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