A recent study has determined that the quality of outpatient care in the United States has generally not improved over the past 10 years. A growing awareness of the frequency of medical mistakes has led to numerous programs designed to improve patient safety and outcomes. These efforts have not produced appreciable results, according to survey data analyzed by the study's authors. The quality of American medical treatment is not getting better.
In October 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety communication regarding a heater-cooler device originally manufactured by Sorin Group Deutschland GmbH. The Stӧckert 3T Heater-Cooler System has been linked to an increased risk of infection with the Mycobacterium chimaera. These infections, referred to as non-tuberculosis mycobacteria (NTM) infections, can lead to serious health complications and even death. The Sorin Group has since partnered with another company and now does business under the name LivaNova.
A new addition to the family is supposed to be an exhilarating and joyful experience for parents and family. On rare occasions, childbirth can be traumatic: in the United States, an estimated 7 babies born per 1,000 suffer from a birth injury. A birth injury or birth trauma is simply an injury to the infant caused by the birth process. These injuries can be temporary, like bruises or fractures, or permanent, like paralysis.
People make mistakes when they get tired. Fatigue is a known safety hazard in many industries. One of the reasons for establishing the 40-hour work week was to cut down on the number of fatal workplace accidents. The Fair Labor Standards Act codified this limitation on working hours in 1938 as part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. The FLSA was a step forward for workers, but not every job was included in its protections. Salaried employees and professionals do not qualify for overtime pay and are often expected to work more than 40 hours in a week. In fact, according to a Gallup survey, the average work week for full-time employees is 47 hours. For medical residents, 40 hours is an unusually long shift.
A recent study found that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. The research extrapolated from data collected in previous studies and estimated that more than 250,000 Americans die each year because of mistakes in their medical care. That finding should be more than enough to inspire medical professionals to look for ways to improve. Unfortunately, the study and others like it are often dismissed in an industry stuck in its ways.
Along with a rise in claims of defensive medicine and unnecessary medical testing has come a concern that certain medical tests could be causing a dangerous increase in radiation exposure among some patients. A new movement has begun in some hospitals to track the cumulative radiation exposure a patient receives as part of his or her electronic medical record. While most are doing nothing more than tracking exposure, it may be a step toward curbing over-testing in that it will show doctors when a patient has received multiple high radiation dose procedures over time. It may encourage doctors to be more judicious in ordering these potentially damaging tests.
Critical access hospitals are facilities designed to serve the needs of rural communities by providing 24-hour emergency services and both inpatient and outpatient services in areas where it might not be cost effective to do so. These small facilities receive special treatment in the Medicare program and are exempt certain reporting requirements. While death rates in larger hospitals dropped from 2002 to 2010, the death rates at these small rural hospitals increased. The increase calls into question whether the special treatment for these small hospitals is having a detrimental effect on the patients they serve by promoting medical mistakes.
Many hospitals are either making the switch to electronic health records or considering the move. According to the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, more individuals are now using smart phones and other devices to track their own health data. Better tracking may help prevent medical mistakes and lead to improved health for those making the change. While many people use cell phone applications to track weight, smart phones are also useful for tracking data connected with chronic ailments such as diabetes.
Hospitals have expended significant effort over the years to reduce the number of infants who die during childbirth. A recent study concerning a spike in severe complications striking mothers has brought attention to the need to do more to make childbirth safer for mothers, as well. From 1999 to 2009, medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest, kidney failure and respiratory distress struck mothers 75 percent more frequently than in the preceding decade according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The spike may reflect a change in demographics for delivering mothers, but it is still important for hospitals to take steps to address this trend.
When you visit a doctor, you want to be able to trust that you are seeing a trained professional who is committed to helping you recover or preserve your health. Unfortunately, a recent survey has revealed that many doctors feel overworked, emotionally exhausted and disconnected from their work. Such burnout has long been associated with medical mistakes and poor patient care. Burnout among doctors is a serious problem with no clear-cut solution.