JCAHO To Lead International Effort To Reduce Medical Errors
World Health Organization officials on Tuesday announced that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which inspects the safety of hospitals, and its affiliate, the Joint Commission International, will head an international effort to reduce medical errors, USA Today reports. According to a 1999 Institute of Medicine report, 44,000 to 98,000 U.S. residents die annually from medical errors, outpacing deaths related to highway accidents or breast cancer.
Under the initiative, medical experts will examine specific safety measures, including determining ways to avoid confusing medications that have similar names; reviewing safe procedures for placing nasogastric tubes, which are threaded through the nose and into the stomach; and establishing "procedures to prevent performing surgery on the wrong body part or even the wrong patient," USA Today reports.
Liam Donaldson, chair of WHO's World Health Alliance for Patient Safety, said hospitals must make it easier for staff members to admit mistakes in order to learn from them. He said, "Human error is inevitable. We can never eliminate it," adding, "We can eliminate problems in the system that make it more likely to happen." Donaldson encouraged the medical industry to look to the aviation industry for ideas to combat medical errors (Szabo, USA Today, 8/24).