Trust is vital when it comes to medical care. People put their most important questions and qualms into the hands of doctors and medical staff and expect that they can rely on them to provide attention and care. This usually, of course, goes as planned, and trusting medical staff and experts is crucial to allowing them to do their job. With this said, patients also must be informed when it comes to medical treatment and what are the risks of the field.
The New Study
A recent major study found that one in 20 patients experiences ‘preventable harm’ when receiving medical care. ‘Preventable harm’ is defined by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement as “unintended physical injury resulting from or contributed to by medical care (including the absence of indicated medical treatment), that requires additional monitoring, treatment or hospitalization, or that results in death.” This is harm that often comes from negligence or error, and as the name suggests, is simple to prevent. This includes but is not limited to not washing hands, over prescribing medications, patients not understanding of what to do after release, or prescribing a drug that interacts with another already taken.
The study carried out a large scale systematic review of 66 previous studies that occurred over the last 19 years. Overall it encompassed 337,025 patients from across the world. In its findings, the researchers reported that 5% of patients were the subjects of preventable harm while 12% of those patients had harm resulting in death. They found the preventable harm was most frequently occurring with drug incidents, therapeutic management, and invasive clinical procedures.
What Can Patients Do
It’s important for patients to know they are not powerless though in influencing preventable harm; rather they too can contribute to their likelihood of risk. Being informed and vocal during medical processes can prevent the more frequent errors and allows them to have an eye for a bad doctor or when proper protocol is missing. This includes watching for over prescription, watching to see if cleanliness standards are met, and seeking out specialists. By empowering oneself with knowledge, patients can avoid many healthcare related risks.
Though the new study finds that doctors and medical professionals must take greater care to avoid errors of negligence, I do not want to write a piece to warn readers of hospital or medical care but rather to take caution with their own health related choices and to actively engage rather than assuming protocol is followed. Knowing there’s a question just means keeping your eyes open and not being afraid to speak up.