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A recently released annual report creates a top ten list of patient safety concerns for the practice of medicine in the US.  The list focuses on some of the most serious problems in the delivery of healthcare in this country.

The independent non-profit organization, ECRI, has a long history of working to improve medical technology, identify problem areas, and offer process solutions around the world. The organization operates under a mandate to provide evidence-based, unbiased assistance to healthcare organizations working to improve their services and outcomes.

To develop its annual list, ECRI collects patient safety information, partners with experts within and outside of the organization, and reviews adverse event reports. The organization identifies the following as the top challenges facing healthcare providers in 2020:

  1. Delayed and missed diagnosis: ECRI notes diagnostic errors “often result in more patient suffering and worse outcomes, sometimes even death, than if the condition had been diagnosed earlier.”  The report notes 10 percent of autopsies reveal that diagnostic errors may have contributed to the cause of death.
  2. Maternal health: Approximately 60 percent of deaths from childbirth-related complications could be prevented.  More than 700 women die each year as a result of poor maternal care in the US.
  3. Recognition of behavioral health needs: Recognizing and responding to aggressive or unstable patients is a priority for improving patient care and the work environment of clinicians.
  4. Device problems: In one facility, patients were harmed by medical devices in 84 of every 1,000 hospital admissions.
  5. Device cleaning, disinfection, and care: Improper processing of instruments and supplies increases the risk of surgical site infections (SSI).  SSI infections carry a three percent mortality rate.
  6. Standardizing safety: With continuing mergers, healthcare facilities continue to expand their services.  ECRI calls for standardizing safety across the continuum of care.
  7. Patient matching in the electronic health record: Electronic medical record mismatches between record and patient can lead to deadly outcomes.
  8. Antimicrobial stewardship: Continuing effort is needed to reduce the number of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions which contribute to increasing antimicrobial resistance.
  9. Automated dispensing cabinets: These devices give healthcare providers controlled access to pharmaceuticals but system overrides risk to patients.
  10. Fragmentation across care settings: Complicated healthcare settings and complicated patient conditions lead to fragmentation of services which can lead to medication and other care errors.

In addition to identifying top health concerns, ECRI provides the list to healthcare organizations to help them reduce the number of medical mistakes made each year.  While no list can eliminate medical malpractice, it will hopefully reduce patient injury in the long term.

If you are seriously injured during a medical encounter, talk to one of our experienced injury attorneys or reach out to anyone from our legal team.

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