Monday, August 29, 2005

Preventing Deaths in Hospitals

It has been nearly 5 years since the Institute of Medicine published its report saying that nearly 100,000 preventable deaths occurred in US hospitals in a year’s time.  Various organizations, including the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), have taken on the task of reducing preventable deaths and injuries.  The IHI has recruited over 2,000 hospitals to focus on this issue.

We’ve found that too many patients and patient family members have not inquired about adverse events that may have had an impact on the patient.  Instead, they say “Well, it was his time to go.”, after a death.  Or, “It was an accident.  Those things just happen.”  Neither of these responses help hospitals in the long run.  Hospitals need to have mechanisms to report errors and safety problems that are anonymous and protect the reporter from disciplinary action by the hospital or by the lawyers.