Half of all injuries that occur as a result of medical errors can be prevented (stock overview)

Half of all injuries, disabilities and even deaths from medical errors can be prevented, research suggests.


A study of 70 studies found that 12 percent of patients around the world had some degree of & # 39; damage & # 39; encountered.

Half of these cases – six percent of patients – could have been prevented by improved diagnosis, surgical techniques or infection prevention, the assessment found.

In these preventable incidents, 12 percent of the patients suffered permanent disability or even death.

In addition to affecting patient safety, preventable damage is also costly. In the US alone, incidental incidents ensure that healthcare providers earn back £ 7.5 billion ($ 9.3 billion) per year.

Half of all injuries that occur as a result of medical errors can be prevented (stock overview)

Half of all injuries that occur as a result of medical errors can be prevented (stock overview)


The study was conducted by the University of Manchester and led by Dr. Maria Panagioti, an associate professor in the department of public health, healthcare research and primary care.

During the treatment, causing damage is a & # 39; major cause of morbidity and mortality & # 39 ;, the researchers wrote in The BMJ.

This is defined as damage that occurs during & # 39; providing healthcare & # 39; instead of an underlying disease or injury, and can be physical, social or psychological. & # 39;

The health burden of this damage has even been compared to that of chronic diseases such as multiple sclerosis and cancer.


Surgical items that remain in patients' bodies can cause sepsis and even death.

In less serious cases, people can experience pain, discomfort and bloating.

In the US, up to 6,000 surgical instruments are left in patients' bodies every year. Of which about 70 percent are sponges and the rest are items such as clamps.


Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women & # 39; s Hospital, said: & # 39; In two-thirds of these cases there are (serious) consequences.

& # 39; In one case, a small sponge was left in the brain of a patient we were studying, and the patient eventually got an infection and finally died. & # 39;

Such errors are considered shockingly bad. They often become & # 39; never events & # 39; mentioned, which also relate to working on the wrong patient or part of the body.

In 2004, the Joint Commission, a not-for-profit organization based in the United States, published the Universal Protocol, which contains guidelines for reducing such never-ending events.

These recommendations mean that all medical equipment is taken into account at the end of each procedure, but this can be challenging as up to 100 sponges can be used in a single major operation.


Errors are also common in stressful situations, when changes in the operation occur suddenly or when there are many distractions.

Dr. Ana McKee, executive vice president and chief medical officer of the Joint Commission, told CNN: & # 39; If there is music in progress or ancillary conversations or someone is on the phone, it does not comply with the spirit of the Universal Protocol. & # 39;

Many hospitals in the US have switched to sponges and surgical tools with bar codes so that they can be followed electronically.

It is also expensive, with around 10 to 15 percent of healthcare costs going to & # 39; healthcare-related patient damage & # 39; the researchers wrote.

In English hospitals, only six specific types of preventable damage cost the equivalent of more than 2,000 GPs or 3,500 nurses annually.


Not all injuries that occur during treatment can be avoided. For example, a patient may receive a response to a drug even after its dose has been carefully calculated.

To uncover the true burden of preventable harm in healthcare, the researchers analyzed 70 other studies.

These had a total of 337,025 patients and were performed over a 19-year period.

The studies measured accidents that occurred as & # 39; a direct consequence of the care provided rather than the underlying disease of the patient & # 39 ;.

Most defined patient damage as preventable if it had a clear cause and could be avoided in the future, such as through better drug management.


The results showed that treatment-related damage affected 12% of the study participants.

Six percent of this was considered preventable.

The researchers therefore concluded that & # 39; half of the patient's damage can be prevented & # 39 ;.

Almost half (49 percent) of the cases were related to drug errors, while & # 39; accidents & # 39; for operations, 23 percent consisted of incidents and infections for 16 percent, the New scientist reported.

In general, half of the cases were classified as mild, while a third was moderate and 12 percent severe.

The damage usually occurred in surgical or intensive care units and was least likely in midwifery.

The researchers claimed their results & # 39; confirm that preventable patient injury is a serious problem in the medical care institutions & # 39 ;.

This was supported by experts from the London School of Economics and Harvard Medical School in a linked editorial.

They said that the revision & # 39; serves as a reminder of the extent of medical damage in health systems, and, more importantly, draws attention to how much potential is preventable. & # 39;

However, the researchers emphasize that the studies differed in how they assessed damage, which may have influenced the accuracy of the results of their review.


Future research should look at how the assessment and recording of these events can be improved, they add.

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