Making healthcare safe sounds like a reasonable idea, doesn’t it? Of course it does! Why in the world is it so hard to make healthcare safe to begin with? We have all heard about the Institute of Medicine report that says that medical mistakes are a serious problem in our healthcare system. The real question is, why is it so hard to provide safe medical care when we have such well trained doctors? After all, isn’t every life entitled to world class care? What we hear advertised and what we get when confined as a patient in our hospitals seems to be two different things. Big hospitals spend millions in advertising and often fall far short from providing anything close to world class care. If only they would concentrate on the business of medicine – doing no harm and saving lives – and not promoting their reputation and bottom line balance sheet numbers, we would all be much safer. After all, do we really need to be told over and over again, with full page ads and public relations campaigns which hospital to go to? I think not. I think we are all capable of judging based upon results and transparency to the public on good and bad outcomes.
We all know that there are safety rules that have to be followed at our jobs. We know that the airline industry has a long list of safety rules to prevent midair collisions. Safety is always a rule of conduct for which we all know that if not followed grave consequences can occur. At work, if we don’t follow safety rules we risk injuring ourselves, customers, our co-workers and others. If we don’t follow the rules, we can get fired or disciplined. Yet, the same basic easy to understand safety rules that apply to healthcare don’t seem to be working. Why is that and why are injuries and deaths continuing to occur when we place our trust in the hands of well-trained healthcare providers to treat us and keep us safe? Why do we continue to hear the truth that there are increased numbers of injuries being caused by avoidable medical errors? Don’t assume that when something bad happens in the hospital to a patient, that the doctors did everything they could and are not responsible. The time for hiding from the truth has ended and we all need to hold the healthcare industry accountable for their mistakes and force them to prevent the preventable.
I am all for making healthcare safe for everyone. Every life does deserve world class care, but without all the advertising and business promotion that goes along with it. Do your job and do it well and follow the standards and work together as a team and patients will not get harmed. Sounds pretty elementary doesn’t?
Well, the Joint Commission, the largest healthcare accrediting body in the United States, knows that patient safety is a matter of national importance and they want all of us to be involved in making sure that you are helped and not harmed by medical care. Again, sounds unbelievable that there has to be this initiative to stop healthcare workers from causing more harm to hospitalized patients, but that seems to be what we are dealing with throughout the nation. This is truly what we do when we fight for patients that are harmed by their medical providers or die because of a delay in diagnosis or a delay in treatment.
So, with that in mind, Speak up if you have questions or concerns. Pay attention to the care you get. Always make sure you are getting the right treatment and medicine. Don’t assume anything. Educate yourself about your illness. Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate. Use a hospital or other healthcare organization that has been carefully accredited. Participate in all decisions about your treatment as it is your life. For more information on your hospital and how to become more informed and involved in your healthcare visit http://www.jointcommission.org/speakup.aspx.