People go to hospitals and clinics to get medical help and ensure their well-being. But what happens when healthcare providers make mistakes? In 2020, some 6,000 British citizens became a victim of prescription errors. In the United States, around 100,000 patients succumb to medical errors each year. These statistics show that healthcare practitioners must reduce these errors to improve patient outcomes. Here are some simple methods to easily overcome medical errors and keep your patients safe:
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Follow medication guidelines
Each health service provides caregivers with proper medication policies, practices, and guidelines to improve patient outcomes. So, healthcare professionals should ensure they’re following these policies to the letter to avoid making mistakes. Some departments have additional guidelines, too, exclusive to their expertise. Adhering to these practices will prevent errors and enhance your efficiency as a healthcare practitioner. You must be familiar with the content of these policies.
Use barcode scanners
Educate your patients
Healthcare practitioners can also curb medical mistakes by educating their patients. Involve patients in the decisions that affect their well-being and encourage them to take control of their health. More health workers are now focusing on patient education; it involves simple instructions such as asking your patients to keep an eye on the drugs being administered to them. Patients can ensure they are getting the medicine they received last time. Ask them to speak up if there’s been a sudden change of meds.
Prioritize everyone’s safety
Healthcare managers can decrease the probability of medical mistakes by making safety an integral part of the organizational workflow. In a safety-conscious organization, leaders encourage staff to speak up and point out problems that can lead to poor patient outcomes. You must train healthcare workers constantly to hone their patient safety skills while updating your organization’s safety policies to better standards. Daily improvements in safety practices and culture are linked with better patient outcomes.
Reduce excessive hospitalization
Excessive hospitalization doesn’t only increase the prevalence of healthcare-associated infections and injuries among patients, but it can also make healthcare providers more prone to making medical errors. Recent reports suggest that 1 in 4 patients are likely to become victims of medical errors because of higher patient inflow and staff burnout. For this reason, decreasing hospital readmissions is the way forward in a healthcare provider’s efforts to reduce medical mistakes. Medical experts have suggested different methods to diminish excessive patient hospitalization, such as the following:
- Educate patients properly about self-care
- Identify the risk factors involved in hospital readmissions
- Ensure patients adhere to their medication after discharge
- Focus on following up with your patients after they’ve been discharged
- Reducing the need for hospital visits and hospitalization by investing in telehealth
Document everything properly
Tracking medical errors is important to ensure they don’t occur again. Collect data, assess it, and discover why mistakes are made during treatment. Tracking these errors is possible when your organization accurately documents every medical procedure and prescription instruction. Moreover, you must:
- Avoid using abbreviations in your notes
- Cite alternative drugs administered during your shift
- Document when you change shifts with another caregiver
- Record any alternative medicines taken by a patient at home
- Constantly update EHRs
Recognize LASA drugs
LASA stands for “Look-Alike Sound-Alike” drugs, and it refers to medications with similar names or appearances, which can lead to confusion during prescription, dispensing, or administration. The disorder may arise due to drug names, packaging, or labeling similarities.
LASA drugs, i.e., look-alike sound-alike drugs, are responsible for 25% of medication mistakes. These drugs may seem similar because of a similar brand or generic name. Some drugs have similar-looking packaging. For instance, Prozac and Prilosec may sound the same when pronounced, but are used to treat different symptoms. Here’s how healthcare professionals can avoid making mistakes involving LASA drugs:
- Never abbreviate a drug name
- Store LASA drugs on different shelves
- Make sure all drugs are labeled clearly to avoid confusion
- Verify the drug name three times at least before administering it
- Use Tall Man lettering, i.e., combine small and capital letters, e.g., busPIRone
Verify medication orders
Common medical practices dictate medication orders must be verified three times before nurses administer drugs. Verification reduces the chances of medical errors caused by someone misreading or mishearing a drug name. Simply asking the doctor to repeat a drug name can help nurses prevent medication mistakes and save a patient’s life.
Read drug guides
Always have drug guides available so you can look up important medicine-related info when needed. Use this guide for reference whenever you’re confused since it contains instructions, e.g.:
- A drug’s trade name and generic name
- That drug’s side effects and adverse reactions
- How that drug interacts with other drugs given to the patient
- Drug cautions such as don’t crush or take before the breakfast
Speak up proactively
A healthcare provider can potentially save a patient’s time by clearing any confusion regarding a prescribed drug. If you notice any risks to a patient’s safety, bring them to management’s attention. The management should also realize that communication issues among healthcare providers are the major reason behind medication mistakes. Listening to staff and letting them address any concerns will help reduce medical errors. So, make effective communication a major part of the structure of your organization. Use the feedback gathered from your employees to improve the medical best practices.
Medical errors reduce the efficiency of America’s health service industry and cost it more than $20 billion annually. Healthcare professionals can reduce these errors by verifying medication orders, recognizing LASA drugs properly, following medication guidelines, and using modern Health-Tech to make treatment more accurate. Following these tips can ensure patients receive proper care.