Safety Checklist Reduces Malpractice Cases for DFW Hospital

| July 9, 2014 | Comments (0)

Medical malpractice is a problem that continues to grow and has a serious financial impact on the cost of health insurance as well as medical services in general. While there are certainly lawsuits filed without merit, the numbers of valid cases continue to escalate. Fortunately, some medical facilities are taking an active role in helping reduce the instances of malpractice and improve overall patient care.

Making Improvements is Essential

Hospitals and Medical Malpractice

Hospitals Improving Safety?

How can we make improvements and reduce the instances of medical malpractice? Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital has the right idea and is (at bare minimum) headed in the right direction. The hospital has developed a checklist for staff to follow during surgical procedures. Staff members receive confirmation from several other doctors and technicians to ensure the nurses and other surgical staff have performed specific tasks and have the supplies they need before the surgeon begins operating on the patient. These results are then logged into the hospital’s electronic health records.

There was actually an article in last’s month paper that showed Arlington Memorial was far ahead of other hospitals in North Texas when it comes to avoiding post-surgical deaths.

Key Aspects of the Arlington Program

One of the key points of the program includes three questions that colleagues must go through verbally before and during each surgery in which they participate:

  • Are you familiar with everyone? Has each one introduced himself or herself?
  • Do you know the name and date of birth of the patient, the procedure the surgeon is performing and the location of the surgery?
  • How many sponges did you use and do you know where they all are?

The checklist the hospital used is based on a standard that was developed by the World Health Organization. The intended purpose of the standard is to ensure those in the operating room are not afraid of speaking up.

Effects of the Checklist

While the steps may appear simple ones, using the checklist systematically and repeatedly has gone a long way toward reducing surgical errors, complications, and infections. The Texas Health chain use of the checklist is part of a national study being conducted at U.S. hospitals.

The question that comes to mind is how much of an affect does the use of the checklist have on improving the quality of health care and the reduction of malpractice incidents? The reduction as indicated by its use in the Arlington Memorial Hospital certainly indicates there is a possibility the checklist at least has some bearing on those figures. Only time will tell whether this checklist becomes mandatory for all hospitals.

Why is the checklist helpful? We read frequently about cases of malpractice that involve surgeons operating on the wrong patients, performing the wrong procedure on a patient, and leaving surgical equipment inside a patient. A checklist such as this one that accounts for introductions and ensures everyone knows what procedure is being performed and where can go a long way toward avoiding those mistakes.

In addition to the value it gives individual patients and their families, reducing medical malpractice incidents can reduce the cost of health insurance and health care costs in general.


Category: In The News

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.