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Top 10 Patient Safety Issues in Hospitals

Patient safety happens to be one of the most crucial aspects of the healthcare sector. It focuses on the significance of preventive measures which must be adopted to evade harm to patients. These lapses may be caused unintentionally due to some uncertainties in healthcare processes resulting in life-threatening consequences. 
Here are some alarming statistics to substantiate this-
  • According to the World Health Organization, one in ten patients encounters safety concerns while receiving treatment.
  • There are more than 43 million patient safety incidents globally every year.
  • Errors due to dispensing of wrong medications and drugs worldwide cost approximately USD 42 billion annually!
With increased focus on value-based care and patient-centricity, feedback plays a critical role in building successful healthcare engagements. Patient Satisfaction Surveys reveal that, safety and confidentiality of patient information is the topmost concern today. In order to increase awareness about this matter, each year 9th December is celebrated as World Patient Safety Day.

With recent advancements in medical technology, healthcare systems are becoming increasingly complex too. Though most hospitals provide round-the-clock care services, their staff perennially face several challenges in keeping the patients safe. Hence Hospital Quality Management must certainly review and address the underlying systematic issues to overcome it for delivering optimal results.

The Top 10 Patient Safety Issues

  1. Wrong and erroneous diagnosis - This happens to be a multi-faced problem that is a result of various cognitive or systemic factors or sometimes a combination of both. It is a challenging issue as it often goes unnoticed until the patient is discharged. Miscommunication also causes diagnostic errors.
  2. Unsafe usage of opioid medications for treatment – Opioids are medicines given for treating pain. They usually have addictive properties and physiological impact which may result in dangerous side-effects on the patient’s health. Often these drugs are misused in outpatient departments and referrals which may initiate self-medication in patients causing irreversible damage to body organs.
  3. Lack of Internal Co-ordination - Failure to communication and lack of internal communication between the staff in hospitals leads to multiple consequences. This includes medication errors, delay in follow-up procedures and diagnostic lapses which deters effective treatment in patient care.
  4. Staff induced Workarounds - Sometimes, hospital staff is tempted to circumvent a barrier by deploying their own workarounds between authorized and actual care practices. Though the problem may be temporarily solved, it is likely to go unnoticed and pose unsafe conditions to the patients endangering their lives.
  5. Lack of Interoperability in Electronic Health Records (EHR) - Disparate and heterogeneous health systems deter the interoperability of EHRs which negatively impacts patient care. This creates hurdles by not providing a holistic view of the patient’s conditions particularly for medication reconciliation resulting in harmful drug interactions. EHR interoperability also hampers efficient care during emergencies and natural calamities.
  6. Mismanagement of Behavioural Health - Acute healthcare calls for sufficient and competent behavioural strategy interventions. Failure to disseminate this can result in episodes of patient self-harming, violence, unauthorised discharges, poor healthcare outcomes and undue interference in treatment.
  7. Lack of Emergency Preparedness - There is a rise in natural calamities like hurricanes, forest fires, volcanoes, earthquakes and cyclones and even man-made disasters like terrorism and indiscriminate shootings. Unpreparedness in such situations results in wrong alterations of healthcare operations leading to mass casualties.
  8. Inadequate Staffing – Lack of licensed and qualified staff increases workloads and negligence thereby causing a rise of patient mortality rates.
  9. Drug shortages - Severe shortages of emergency medications delay life-saving procedures leading to fatalities.
  10. Lack of Hygiene - Failure in providing hygienic conditions and sterilized medical equipment leads to compromised care and has devastating effects.
Healthcare Consulting Firms can help hospitals in overcoming patient safety issues. Their expertise can create robust solutions to strengthen systems and enhance care practices by collaborating with the necessary stakeholders.

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