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Tuesday , 02/12/2013
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Patient Safety Measures

Patient safety is ensuring the avoidance of accidental medical injury or iatrogenic injury while receiving medical care. Medical errors occur in hospitals, clinics & pharmacies. Or patient may end up buying wrong medicines due to doctor's illegible handwriting.

Legibility -

Prescriptions, when handwritten, are notorious for being often illegible (5% according to an Irish study.]). In the US, medical practitioners' sloppy handwriting kills more than 7,000 people annually", "according to a July 2006 report from the National Academies of Science's Institute of Medicine (IOM)".  Pharmacists do not have special deciphering skills, when in doubt, they call the medical practitioner. At other times, even though some of the individual letters are illegible, the position of the legible letters and length of the word is sufficient to distinguish the medication based on the knowledge of the pharmacist. Some jurisdictions have made legible prescriptions a law (e.g. Florida. Some have advocated the elimination of handwritten prescriptions altogether and computer printed prescriptions are increasingly common.

Examples of errors - only the tip of the iceberg
1. Misdiagnosis

2.. Giving the wrong drug or (wrong patient, wrong chemical/dose/time/route)

3. Giving two or more drugs that interact unfavorably

4. Wrong-site surgery, such as amputating the wrong limb

5. Gossypiboma, a surgical sponge left behind inside the patient after surgery

It is estimated that in a typical 100 to 300 bed hospital in the United States, excess of $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 is attributable to prolonged stays and complications just due to medication errors occur yearly. There is an urgent need to wake up to this aspect of wasteful healthcare costs.   
Pointers towards improved patient safety measures:
1. Make patient safety a awareness priority amongst healthcare personnel and patients.

2. Create a healthcare culture of safety.

3. Initiate routine safety assessments.

4. Implement vigorously known safety practices.

5. Incorporate patient safety into all healthcare professional training.

6. Deal promptly with professional misconduct leading to medical errors.
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