Patient's perceptions of medical errors differ from the clinical definition of a medical error, and the discrepancy can contribute to decreased patient satisfaction for hospital stays, according to a study in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
Although a majority of patients did not have concerns about medical errors, researchers suggested that telling patients that errors are possible will be a key component of error-prevention programs. However, providing such information to some patients might lead to unnecessary fear.
The study found that clinicians need to clarify to patients what they mean by "medical error" or "mistake" in an attempt to educate them and involve them in error-prevention programs.
According to the authors, developing effective error prevention programs will require further research addressing:
- Issues related to medical errors that raise concerns among patients;
- Strategies for eliciting these concerns from patients; and
- Methods of addressing patients' concerns about medical errors (Burroughs et al., Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, January 2007).
Patients who were admitted to house staff teams at academic medical centers during days with high admissions had worse clinical outcomes, longer stays and used more resources than patients who entered the hospital when admissions were low, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
However, the authors suggest that medical teams who care for higher numbers of patients on average might adjust their work styles, citing data that show that patients treated by such hospital personnel required fewer resources and had no change in readmission or mortality.
The study concludes that hospitals should work to identify strategies to reduce medical teams' patient volumes and use the resulting savings -- from reduced patient stays and usage of other resources -- to support more staff (Ong et al., Archives of Internal Medicine, 1/8). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.