Some Hospitals Have Not Taken Steps To Address Medical Errors, Study Says
Many U.S. hospitals have not taken important steps to prevent medical errors, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Washington Post reports (Washington Post, 12/14). For the study, researchers from a coalition of professional health organizations surveyed 107 hospitals in Missouri and Utah in 2002 and 2004 and analyzed responses to 91 questions in seven areas (Hamilton, Salt Lake Tribune, 12/14).
The study, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, finds that about two-thirds of respondents had fully implemented computerized physician order entry systems for laboratory or radiology tests in 2004, an increase of only a few percentage points from 2002. In addition, the study finds that about 34.1% of respondents had fully implemented CPOE systems for prescription drugs in 2004, an increase of less than one percentage point from 2002.
According to the study, fewer than half of respondents had fully implemented policies to ensure that employees involved in the dispensation of prescription drugs worked a maximum of 12 consecutive hours. However, the study finds that all respondents had implemented policies to require physicians to discuss anesthesia risks with patients before surgery and that 95% of respondents had implemented policies to require surgeons to confirm the side of body on which they should operate and mark the site before witnesses.
Daniel Longo, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Missouri-Columbia, said, "While there was improvement in patient safety, it was very, very modest. We need to step up the pace."
Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association, said, "Hospital leaders across the country are keenly aware of public expectations that care will be made safer," adding, "They are actively engaged in improvements."
Mary Becker, senior vice president of the Missouri Hospital Association, said that, although hospitals must increase efforts to prevent medical errors, the process will take time (Bavley, Kansas City Star, 12/14).
An abstract of the study is available online.