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Preventable Medical Errors: 5 Patient Safety Statistics


Preventable Medical Errors in the US Healthcare System

Most Americans would be shocked to learn the breadth and depth of preventable medical errors in the US healthcare system.  The statistics are alarming.  Did you know that:

  • An average of almost 7,000,000 patients are harmed each year as a result of preventable medical errors

  • Over 1,000,000 of these errors are medication based

  • As a result of these medication based errors, approximately 5,000 patients die each year from a mistake that could have been prevented

To put that statistics in to perspective, think of it this way:  eight fully loaded jumbo jets would have to crash every week to kill the same number of passengers as the number of patients who are accidentally killed in American hospitals.  That gives the US healthcare system a safety record equal to that of motorcycle racing or bungee jumping.

Increasing Patient Safety with Technological Solutions

Our health care professionals are committed to providing the highest level of patient care, but the majority of these preventable medical errors could not have been solved by working harder or paying closer attention. We need help from technology to solve this problem.

So, in HIT, what are we doing to lower them?  What are the best technological solutions for this problem?  Solid CPOE implementations are a great start.  According to the New England Healthcare Institute:

  • A fully implemented and tested CPOE system would save the average community hospital an average of about $2.7 million in each year in annual operating costs
  • A CPOE system that has been implemented properly can reduce medication errors by 81%

 Preventable Medical Error Solution

Implementing and Testing Your CPOE System

The catch here is proper implementation.  A study done by the Leapfrog Group in 2010 showed that  CPOE systems, on average, missed 50% of the routine medication order errors and 33% of the potentially fatal medication order errors.  Thorough and exhaustive testing of our CPOE systems is the only way to get the much needed increase in patient safety.  Attempting to manually test all the order combinations  and evaluate the alerts is beyond what most institutions can do – there is simply not enough time nor resources.  However, there is a solution.  Tailored automated testing solutions deliver the ability to test 100% of your order catalog quickly and repeatedly – and much more accurately than manual testing.  Automation delivers the peace of mind of a well tested system.  And when your system is thoroughly tested and working as expected, you have the ability to make a significant difference in the world of preventable medical errors.

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