Wachter on patient safety musts

There are some practices that 'clinicians should not have the right of individual veto'
By Bernie Monegain
10:23 AM
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As much as patients have benefited from a healthcare system that has avoided blaming individual care providers for errors, Robert Wachter MD, proffers that the approach must also include accountability.

He writes in a new blog post in the journal Health Affairs that there are some practices in medicine that are a must-do, not merely a nice-to-do.

"We believe that the time has come to articulate criteria for 'must do' safety practices: practices that have sufficiently compelling supportive evidence that clinicians should not have the right of individual veto," he writes.

[See also: 12 patient safety gurus and why they matter. and Q&A: Robert Wachter on health IT's 'hope, hype and harm.]

Wachter puts forth a list of those practices. At the top are hand-washing and flu vaccines.

Here are Wachter's five criteria for putting certain patient care habits on the must-do list:

  • The patient safety problem that is being addressed is important.
  • The practice has been demonstrated by research or expert consensus to be effective in reducing harm.
  • The impact of compliance with the practice is substantial, i.e., a significant number of patient harms would be prevented.
  • Universal compliance with the practice, and auditing such compliance, is feasible for clinicians, health care organizations, and accreditors.
  • The practice has been accepted as a standard by the National Quality Forum, relevant specialty societies, and by broad professional consensus.

Read the blog here.