Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Hospitals as Threats to Health

"It is estimated that on any given day more than 1,600 hospital beds across the country are occupied by a patient who suffered harm that extended his or her hospital stay."
"In addition to what these patients and their families go through, their continued need for treatment also has a cost to the system. In that it keeps other people from getting the help they need."
Report: Canadian Institute of Health Information and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute

"How safe are our hospitals? [They could be a lot safer.]"
"What we see is that most patients get safe care, but the results show one in 18 suffer some harm."
"That is a good reminder there is more work to do to make hospitals as safe as possible."
Kathleen Morris, vice-president, research and analysis, Canadian Institute of Health Information
Tens of thousands of people are unintentionally harmed in Canadian hospitals every year, according to new figures. - Ottawa Citizen

The newly released cross-Canada health report used as an example Belleville resident Herbert Strasser, healthy at 72 but after developing spinal abscesses and C. difficile in after-surgery complications, died, with a coroner concluding that his case represented a "perfect storm" of false assumptions and missed clues. His was an unfortunate death that spurred changes at Kingston General Hospital and at Belleville hospitals.

CIHI Patient harm in Canadian hospitals
Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Of every 18 patients, one patient suffered unintentional harm in 2014-2015 resulting from hospital care that patient received, representing 138,000 patients across the country falling victim to hospital-acquired medical problems through the default of some inadequacy in care. The report, titled Measuring Patient Harm in Canadian Hospitals, highlighted 150 individuals who had the misfortune to have experienced a sponge or other surgical object left inside them, at the conclusion of a surgery.

Of those people so affected, one in eight died, despite authorities feeling themselves unable to claim with any degree if certainty whether it was hospital harm directly implicated in causing those deaths. Additionally, one in five -- about 30,000 people -- suffered more than one form of deleterious health outcome. The rate of such hospital harms is set at 5.6 percent, a steady state in recent years in the country.

A new system to track hospital harm places emphasis on 31 different types of inadvertent health outcomes injurious to people's health prospects. Those range from birth trauma and medication errors to C.difficile infection, patient accidents and medical instruments that have been left in patients during surgical procedures. The purpose of the measuring and tracking on a national scale is to aid hospitals in lowering harm rates and improving patient safety.

Among the most frequently occurring harms listed are urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and electroyte and fluid imbalances. Many hospitals have focused on improving their rates of C. difficile infections, and the going has been extremely difficult. Hospitals devise various protocols to reduce C. difficile, inclusive of organizing SWAT teams to swiftly respond from infection control, housekeeping and logistics department.

Preventable harm can occur in all areas of the hospital.
Preventable harm can occur in all areas of the hospital. (David Goldman/Associated Press)

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