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It Can be Done—One Healthcare System Reduced Errors by Over 50 Percent

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Challenged by the rising rates of medical mistakes, one healthcare system took a systemic approach to reducing patient harm and dropped their error rate by more than 50 percent.

Our law firm focuses on obtaining compensation and justice for patients and families who are seriously injured by the too-common mistakes made throughout our healthcare system.  For our clients, and for us, any news about a decline in medical malpractice is good news.

In this instance, a recent study published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety outlines how one healthcare system launched an initiative to reduce medical error for a five-year period, and then sought to maintain that result in following years.  Not only did they meet their initial goal, but in the years following the study, they bettered their results.

BJC Healthcare Addresses Medical Harm

Based in St. Louis, Missouri, the BJC Healthcare system currently encompasses 15 hospital facilities and more than 100 medical groups located in Missouri and Illinois.

Though not often discussed, medical error is a leading cause of death in the United States.  Despite this knowledge, there has not been a significant reduction in the amount of harm done to patients by healthcare practitioners.

To address patient safety, BJC Healthcare implemented an initiative aimed at four common areas of injury to patients in hospital settings, including:

  • Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs): From prior analysis, BJC knew its top HAI facility concerns include catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI), central line-associated bloodstream infection (CLABSI), and colonization with Clostridioides difficile ( diff).  All three of these HAIs afflict in-patient care throughout the US.
  • Fall risk: Unattended (or attended) falls in a hospital facility are a frequent cause of severe injury in hospital settings.  Falls occur when bed alarms are turned off and when patient care is not sufficient to assess or prevent trips, slips, and falls of patients.
  • Pressure ulcers: Outside of healthcare facilities, there is not a lot of talk about pressure ulcers, yet they are common and dangerous.  Critical care patients who are not mobile may be placed in positions that cause pressure to layers of skin, muscle, and tissue between the dermis and the bone.  Pressure ulcers are painful, disfiguring, and can lead to infection, including sepsis. 
  • Venous thromboembolism: Blood clots are an emergent threat. Blood clots are more likely to form and cause disability or death in surgical settings.

BJC Healthcare assigned teams to investigate, address, and surveil these concerns throughout their system. At the end of the initial five-year period, the total number of victims of medical harm fell by 51.6 percent.  Over the next five years, the numbers of patient injuries in these areas continued to fall.  At the end of a decade of measure, BJC had reduced rates of medical error on these issues by 74.9 percent since the 2009 start date.

This study shows that the reduction of medical harm is not out of reach. Obtaining medical care should not be a trade-off between injury from illness, and that from medical error.

If you suffer an HAI or need a medical mistake attorney in Baltimore, speak with us today.

Medical Malpractice Attorneys help you in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. is a leading medical malpractice law firm with a track record of winning complex cases against institutional defendants and individual physicians.  Contact us today or call 410-234-1000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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