A new Health and Human Services (HHS) initiative, Partnership for Patients, is calling hospitals to focus on nine specific types of medical errors where the potential is great for increased care. The initiative has two over arching goals: keep hospitals patients’ symptoms from worsening, and facilitate patients’ treatment process from the hospital environment to other care settings. This ambitious project’s goal is to reduce readmissions by 20% by 2013.
This mission stems from evidence supporting the amount of hospital patients that die from preventable medical errors every year. A 1999 Institute of Medicine study estimated around 98,000 Americans die yearly from these types of medical errors. Unfortunately, the figures have not changed much through the years and more so now than ever are hospitals and government agencies are taking great strides to reduce preventable medical mistakes.
Another point of origin for this project, and notice for alarm, is the number of Medicare patients readmitted after discharge within 30 days. According to the HHS about one in five seniors, or 2.6 millions Medicare patients are readmitted within this time frame. Granted, not all of those are preventable, but measures can still be taken to reduce avoidable readmissions. The $500 million donated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center will be used to develop new, more efficient alternatives to help reach a Medicare savings goal of $10 billion over the next three years.
4 Innovative Hospitals Solutions:
I mentioned in my earlier post How Hospital Can Prevent Health Care-Associated Infections patients who acquired health care-associated infections (HAIs) averaged 19.2 more days in the hospital with bills averaging $43,000 greater than non HAI patients. Two innovative techniques hospitals used for lowering HAIs, one of the nine types of medical errors for the Partnership for Patient project, were liquid markers and copper surfaces. Liquid markers, which only can be seen under ultraviolet light, identify areas and spaces that were missed when cleaning occurred. The second technique, which has been a research topic as of late, is substituting copper surfaces for more commonly used materials like stainless steel and plastic. These are just two of many creative methods hospitals are implementing to reduce costs and save lives.
HealthCare.gov has a full list of current methods hospitals and health facilities are also implementing. Among them include:
“Developing a culture of safety, improving the processes for ordering, dispensing medicines, and administering medicines, reconciling medications at all transition points, and reducing harm caused by high-hazard medications (i.e., anticoagulants, insulin, narcotics and sedatives, electrolytes, antibiotics, chemotherapy, and drugs administered intravenously).” - For preventing an adverse drug event
“Surgical site infections can be successfully prevented by implementing preventative peri-operative practices such as optimizing use of antimicrobial prophylaxis, proper hair removal techniques, and control of serum glucose levels.” - For preventing surgical site infections
“Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia can be successfully prevented by implementing specific preventive practices for patients on ventilators, such as elevation of the head of the bed to reduce aspiration, adjustment of sedation to allow patients to follow commands, and daily assessment of readiness to remove the breathing tube to reduce duration of the use of the ventilator.” – For preventing Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia
Though these three medical errors are part of the nine HHS is seeking to increase prevention for, the partnership program will target all forms of harm to patients. I would enjoy hearing your suggestions for other pioneering preventative measures. For more information about Partnership for Patients see www.HealthCare.gov
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