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Admitting Medical Mistakes Can Improve Patient Safety

Human medical errors hurt about 1.5 million in the United Sstates each year. Mistakes result in 100,000 health care-acquired infections, and these preventable injuries cause between 44,000 and 98,000 fatalities each year, according to Quantros.

Limiting serious injuries to patients mean not only preventing medical errors, but also reporting and learning from adverse events when they occur. This is the American Academy of Pediatrics' new policy statement, which encourages pediatricians to promote an "optimal culture of safety" when providing patient care.

According to the new policy statement authors, and two steering committees on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pediatricians must promote a practice culture that rewards reporting medical errors, urges open communication, and assesses information to learn from mistakes.

The new policy statement encourages leaders in all environments, such as solo practitioners, hospital CEOs, and members from boards of trustees to "be held accountable for making a serious, visible, and ongoing commitment to creating safe systems of care."

The new policy statement authors recommend improving pediatric patient safety:

  • Expand hospital-based patient-safety education to include ambulatory settings.
  • Develop pediatric-specific error reporting that does not depend just on computerized physician order entry.
  • Enhance family-centered practice by engaging patients and their parents or guardians in safety concerns.

The authors provide data from studies on pediatric patient harm in the new policy statement. For example, medication mistakes are a concern in pediatrics, especially in the critical care setting.  A 2004 study in the neonatal intensive care unit found 47% of mistakes involved medications. In another study, 15% of new prescriptions in an outpatient pediatric clinic were issued with a dosing error. (Pediatrics 2004; 113: 1609-1618; J Pediatr 2005; 147: 761-767).

The authors concluded the new policy statement with:  "Pediatricians in all venues must have a working knowledge of patient-safety language, advocate for best practices that attend to risks that are unique to children, identify and support a culture of safety, and lead efforts to eliminate avoidable harm in any setting in which medical care is rendered to children."

If you or a loved one suffers an injury due to improper medical care in North Carolina, hold NC medical professionals accountable with the help of a North Carolina medical malpractice attorney. To learn more about what to you or a loved one can recover in a medical negligence lawsuit, check out our case results.

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