Monday, April 21, 2014

Medical Errors... preventable deaths?

We recently stumbled upon an interesting fact from the American Association for Justice. Apparently medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in America (based on 2010 stats). Here are the numbers:

1  Heart disease:     654,092
2 Cancer:     550,270
3 Stroke:     150,147
4 Chronic lower respiratory diseases:  123,884
5 Accidents (unintentional injuries):  108,694
Medical Errors:   98,000
6 Diabetes:     72,815
7 Alzheimer's disease:    65,829
8 Influenza/Pneumonia:   61,472
9 Nephritis/Nephrosis:    42,762
10 Septicemia:     33,464
Another article did a great job of discussing why medical errors occur in Diabetes patients specifically. One of many points the author made was that a switch to an EMR/EHR could help reduce errors caused my misinformation or lack of information. 
Which makes me wonder, how many of these deaths could have been prevented by good charting skills and proper research on a patient's history/information? Surely, mistakes would still happen. But I wonder, how many errors could be prevented if all care was properly recorded in a way that was easy to pass on from shift to shift and was readily reviewed by all medical professionals working with that patient? Something as small as seeing an order for Oxygen in a chart and realizing the patient doesn't have oxygen attached is critical when reviewing a patient's chart. Which is why we're ecstatic to see more schools move towards a critical thinking approach with any EHR/EMR system they have access to. 
We love the questions we're hearing Instructors ask: What is the chart saying? How do you find information related to a patient and how can you  use that information? If we all thought a little more critically, how many errors could be avoided?