High Prevalence of Medical Errors in the United States

The United States of America’s healthcare experiences many challenges. However, most citizens are unaware of the problems, especially the most visceral one –the high prevalence of medical errors in healthcare facilities. For a long time, I have been aware that sometimes, healthcare professionals can make mistakes that result in the demise of their patients. I have never imagined that such avoidable errors translate into staggering numbers of deaths as most studies have suggested. While it is undeniable that human beings are prone to mistakes, it is absurd that such inherent susceptibility has become so detrimental in healthcare provision that it jeopardizes the life of patients.

Based on the difficult training that healthcare professionals undergo before they are entrusted with the life patients, I find it utterly absurd that they still make fatal mistakes –that claim about 275 lives per day –I have never imagined that medical errors could be at par with significant causes of death like chronic lifestyle diseases, road accidents, and others.

The prevalence of medical errors is not something that started in the 21st century. Arguably, ever since the first healthcare professional attended to a patient, medical mistakes whether systemic or inherent have existed. In 1987, Ilene and George begot a son, Michael Louis. On his birthday, Michael suffered an ear infection that would later complicate his health and lead to an avoidable death. After a series of visits to a local pediatrician at Long Island, North Wantagh, over their son’s abnormally large tonsils and adenoids, Ilene and George decided to take Michael for surgery despite their awareness of the risks involved.

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At the age of two and a half years, Michael was subjected to a tonsillectomy (Gibson, & Singh, 2003). The New York-based surgeon who led the surgery advised Ilene and George to report any sign of bleeding which Ilene made sure. On the second day, after noticing blood on Michael’s pillow, she said to the surgeon’s office, and the doctor on duty only cauterized the leaking blood vessel.

Michael’s health continued to deteriorate as he vomited blood. When Ilene took him through the emergency room, a new pediatrician dismissed them despite his low blood temperature and pressure. Later when Ilene complained of her son’s swollen groin, an attending allergist only prescribed an ointment for the sores. On a routine follow up, the surgeon hinted that he never found any records of postoperative problems and just advised that Michael avoids solid foods. Eventually, Michael died due to loss of blood (Gibson, & Singh, 2003). I feel that Michael never deserved to die. His death could’ve been prevented for the systemic error of the New York hospital. I think that the surgeon should’ve admited Michael after the surgery. He was aware of the risks involved when a child undergoes tonsillectomy. Michael needed intensive medical care something which he could only get in the hospital, not at home. Almost everyone who attended to Michael in the hospital, the doctor, the allergist, and the surgeon is responsible for his e hventual premature death. It is devastating to lose a child due to systemic tonsillectomy errors in a facility that is meant to protect life.

Contemporarily, doctors perform fewer tonsillectomies. Reports suggest doctors perform 80% fewer tonsillectomies as compared to the too early 1990s. The number of children who die after their tonsils are surgically removed has also reduced drastically, thanks to the quality and safety measures that exist currently. In the olden days, crude methods of tonsillectomy which induced post-surgery pain, bleeding, and other complications to children were used. Nowadays, advanced methods of conducting tonsillectomy have emerged (Morris, Hassin, & Borschmann, p. 47, 2018). The best example of such modern methods includes a harmonic scalpel, thermal welding, and the use of Microdebrider. Apart from the technological inventions that have revolutionized the operation, modern healthcare facilities and other stakeholders in the health sector have initiated post-tonsillectomy precautionary measures to curb mistakes that were predominant in the past. Such measures include ice collars placed on the neck to reduce swelling of the throat, prescription of appropriate painkillers that are free from aspirin, secondary surgery of the leaking blood vessels in case the patient is bleeding. Also, the government, healthcare givers, and other parties in healthcare have come together to completely eradicate systemic errors in the hospitals (Morris, Hassin, & Borschmann, p. 50, 2018).

It is crucial for all the concerned parties in public health initiate measures the ascertain improved patient outcomes. It would be an empty chalice to initiate such measures without taking into consideration the nurses and their code of ethics. Nurses remain at the forefront of eradicating medical errors in the healthcare provision.

Consequently, they embrace a professional culture that only prioritizes the safety of patients above anything else. As such, nurses are obliged to report medical errors –an uphill task as it has turned out for nurses. The rippled effects of such failures are catastrophic to the nurses, patients, the facility, and the entire system of healthcare. Nurses find it difficult to report medical misses, surgeries, or even treatment that went awry as they watch out of the fear of losing their jobs or being victimized. Noncommittal nurses always suffer from guilt, and in some cases, they leave the system to seek other ways of livelihood. Patients experience the most out of such misdemeanors (Gibson, & Singh, 2003). Health deterioration, death, and constant anxiety about their health status are just a few effects that such failures bring to the patients. As far as the facility and the entire healthcare system are concerned, such letdowns can lead to poor public image and ultimate collapse.

Whereas some fatal medication mistakes arise due to incompetence, carelessness, miscommunication among healthcare professionals, and other factors, nursing shortages is a precursor to medical errors that cannot be downplayed. The nursing shortage is a factor that hinders the provision of quality healthcare and exacerbates the prevalence of medication mistakes. In most cases, nurses spend most of the time with patients, making sure that they take the correct dose of medicine and drugs, helping them to exercise, and even dress their wounds. In the case of nursing shortages, all these essential duties would be performed dismally, therefore, leading to the occurrence of several medication mistakes.

As stipulated in myriads of health studies and reports, the rate at which medication errors occur is alarming. It is estimated that about 100 000 Americans die each year due to medication errors. I feel that the stunning number of deaths which stem from medication errors is very significant. It symbolizes a healthcare system that needs reforms. The figures necessitate proper management, correction, and documentation of medication errors (Nanji, Patel, Shaikh, Seger, & Bates, p. 27, 2016). Firstly, I would recommend removal of all incompetent personnel from healthcare facilities, enhancing communication among healthcare professionals, doing extensive research on diseases’ diagnosis and treatment to curb the problem of some patients becoming unresponsive to some drugs or experiencing severe side effects.

Additionally, I would recommend extensive employment of advanced technology both in handling clinical records as well as carrying out complicated surgical and therapeutic procedures (Wang et al., 2015). This way, it will be possible to eliminate errors due to sheer negligence from the healthcare professionals. Above all, I firmly believe that quality improvement is a necessity in curbing medication errors. Quality improvement helps in the mitigation of risks that both healthcare professionals and patients face due to the occurrence of medication mistakes.

The primary aim of healthcare facilities is to provide services that save lives. It is impossible to provide such services without gathering, processing, analyzing, and storing patients’ data. Patients’ medical histories are indispensable as far as diagnosis, prescriptions, therapies, and other essential functions of healthcare professionals are concerned. In this regard, healthcare facilities and all the stakeholders in the system must embrace nursing informatics that integrates advanced computer technologies, information science, and nursing. This way, vital information which includes laboratory test results, medical history, prescriptions, and personal information is recorded and kept for later use (Gibson, & Singh, 2003). Noteworthy, healthcare facilities must take advantage of the rapidly advancing technology and employ it extensively. Application of dummy medicines, handheld computers from where doctors, nurses, and other professionals access the database of the patient, bar-code technology, replacement of handwritten prescription with an electronic order, and training doctors through simulation are a few technological advancements will indeed revolutionize operations in the healthcare environment. Arguably, nursing informatics, employment of technology, and effective communication will have a considerable impact on nursing in the future. With technology and elaborate nursing informatics, I am convinced that medication errors –the old problem in the healthcare environment –will be eradicated.

Owing to the importance of communication in the healthcare sector, it is necessary healthcare professionals –nurses, nutritionist, doctors, pharmacists, therapists, and other professionals should work as a unit and avoid giving contradicting information about their patient. Patients should, therefore, seek valid, reliable, and accurate information about the doctors, healthcare facilities and providers (Gibson, & Singh, 2003). Information about the facilities is found in health brochures available in local hospitals, reliable government databases, websites, medical journals, support organizations, and many other sources.

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High Prevalence of Medical Errors in the United States. (2022, Feb 08). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/high-prevalence-of-medical-errors-in-the-united-states/

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