Hospital Malpractice - New Protective Steps for Patients
Joint Commission Safety Guidelines
Hospital malpractice occurs when a staff member, which can be a doctor or any hospital employee), is negligent or engages in improper conduct in the treatment of a patient resulting in patient harm.
According the Joint Commission of hospital accreditation estimated that 40 mistakes are made each week in U. S. hospitals, which include things like ordering procedures on the wrong patient, operating on the wrong site, making medication errors, and so on.
I could certainly fill up this article with medical horror stories, but many hospitals have made important changes to ensure patient safety and the Joint Commission also has a new set of guidelines for 2012.
If a hospital wants to keep their accreditation, which is necessary to keep the door open, the safety goals must be followed. For example, two ways must be used to identify patients, for example a patient’s name and date of birth is checked before a procedure or receiving surgery. There is a Safe Safety Check List that is very specific for better care of patients.
New Patient Security Measures
Many hospitals across the country are taking numerous steps to prevent medical mistakes and patient safety is a primary goal. Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, FL has instituted a new measure to insure patient security by installing palm scanners. Palm scanner has already been used in several banks in Japan, in hospitals in South Carolina and Florida, and at Duke University. The palm scanners have several benefit including:
- Avoiding cases of mistaken identity and patient errors.
- Ensuring that the right patient is receiving care by avoiding duplication of records or patients with the same name.
- Protecting against identity theft.
- Patient satisfaction is also improved by eliminating the need to ask so many questions which speeds up the registration process after the palm print image.
How a Palm Scanner Works
Palm scanning is effective since each individual has a unique vein pattern under the skin of his or her palms. The veins are scanned by near-infrared rays, which are then encrypted and stored in our electronic medical records. Even patient with the same name or in the same family have different vein patterns, therefore, the chance of patient duplication in records is eliminated.
The U. S. Centers for Disease Control considers the scanners in the same classification, as door knobs, which means that can be effectively cleaned with hand sanitizers.
What You Can do as a Patient
Patients need to be aware of methods to protect themselves from medical mistakes and infections. The primary way to achieve this goal is to be very observant as a patient or a family member. Remember it is your body and you can refuse any medication or procedure if for some reason you are not comfortable with the order.
- Make sure you give your name, date of birth and the surgery you are scheduled for to every doctor, nurse or technician in the hospital prior to the surgery. This might seem extreme, but it is always better to protect yourself.
- If a patient is having surgery, particularly on a limb, the hospital is required to mark that limb. If that is not done, ask one of the caretakers to do so.
- Be aware of your prescribed medications and what they look like. If the nurse is giving you an unfamiliar medication make sure you ask what it is and which doctor ordered it. It is your body and you do not have to take a medication just because it is handed to you.
- If you have a wound that requires a dressing change and the caregiver does not wash their hands, refuse to let them look at the dressing. This holds true for doctors as well.
- If you have a procedure ordered make sure you doctor explains the purpose of the procedure or test.
- If any caregiver appears to have a cold, is sneezing, etc., request they wear a mask and gloves when they are in your room.
- It is important to be clear about personal details. If a medical personal pronounces your name incorrectly or even uses the wrong name, speak up. Often a patient will just assume the person just made a mistake, but you cannot afford to assume this is true.
- If you are entering the hospital for a planned procedure or surgery, try to become informed as to exactly what will be done and what to expect for recovery. If the doctor doesn’t explain it in an understandable fashion, the Internet has a wealth of information.
No Room for Error | Patient Safety
If the worse does happen and you are harmed by something that happens in the hospital, you do have the right to consult hospital malpractice lawyers.
People generally think if they get to the hospital that the doctor takes care of the rest, but that is not a safe assumption. While the bulk of the time this is true, doctors are only human and humans occasionally make mistakes. Hospital care is a team effort, and consider yourself as part of the team.
We might ask what is patient safety? Safety is the responsibility of everyone who works in a hospital and even the patients, or if the patient is incapacitated the family can also play an important role.
© 2012 Pamela Oglesby