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Significant patient safety concerns for 2013: Part I

In 2013, new federal quality reporting mandates go into effect. This means that when facilities and providers provide excellent patient care, they will be recognized for those efforts. Similarly, facilities and providers who are regularly guilty of medical malpractice and fail to improve their processes will be penalized for their lack of progress. So where do hospitals, doctors and patients need to focus in 2013? There are several pressing patient safety concerns that everyone needs to be aware of and be working towards solutions for in the coming year.

First, patients should inquire about whether their facility uses surgical checklists before going under the knife. Checklists aim to counteract the prevalence of human error by better ensuring that critical patient safety steps are not missed during the surgical process. Failure to use checklists can lead to serious complications, wrong-site or wrong-patient procedures, infection and foreign-body mistakes. Checklists have dramatically improved the safety of air travel. Hospitals and surgeons should be employing them as well and patients should similarly insist on their use.

A second patient care "must have" is proper hand hygiene procedures. Whether healthcare providers are in the operating room, drawing blood, administering medication or simply helping patients to the bathroom, proper hand hygiene compliance is a must. Failure to maintain proper hygiene at every single point in a patient's care can lead to the otherwise preventable spread of potentially fatal disease and infection.

What are some other pressing patient safety concerns sure to be a point of focus in the American healthcare system in 2013? Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion.

Source: Becker's Clinical Quality & Infection Control, "10 Top Patient Safety Issues for ASCs and Hospitals for 2013," Rachel Fields, Dec. 27, 2012

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