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Significant patient safety concerns for 2013: Part II

Earlier this week, we began a discussion about pressing patient safety issues likely to receive a great deal of attention in the coming year. In an effort to reduce the prevalence of medical malpractice specifically and preventable medical errors generally, new reporting guidelines are going into effect in 2013. They will target patient safety in a variety of critical ways.

One way that hospitals will be looking to improve their record of patient safety is by issuing "timeouts" in their operating rooms. This phrase is meant to signify that surgeons will take a moment to verify a patient's information, surgical site and other critical information before operating. Employing this simple technique will undoubtedly save untold numbers of patients from wrong-site and wrong-patient procedures. Before going under the knife this year, patients should insist that their surgeons perform a timeout before operating.

This year, hospitals will also likely be employing debriefing techniques post-surgery at increasing rates. When surgeons and their OR teams discuss procedures in their immediate aftermath, mistakes get caught more frequently and everyone has a chance to learn how to improve their performance during similar future procedures.

In addition, hospitals and providers are increasingly required to communicate more effectively. A staggering percentage of preventable medical errors may be avoided when providers within and outside a certain facility communicate about patient care in an effective, clear manner. The ways in which providers will tackle this issue are varied, but if one single issue is changed for the better this year, the healthcare industry broadly hopes that it will be effective communication.

Too many American patients are affected each year by medical mistakes and preventable errors. 2013 will hopefully be a turning point in patient safety for the betterment of everyone.

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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