Posted on Dec 01, 2011
A hospital in North Carolina has noticed that their new program of reporting medical errors anonymously and without punishment is an excellent way to find the hospital's weak spots.

The experiment, conducted in Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, saw a rate of 5 admitted errors per year jump to 86 errors per year after the program began, presumably because now the consequences of reporting one's errors have disappeared.

Since the Institute of Medicine's 1999 study, which estimated 100,000 Americans die every year from medical errors, hospitals have been implementing initiatives to curb the figure.

LCH did so two and a half years ago when they trained a "pediatric safety champion team." Members of this team would oversee various sectors of the hospital from physicians to nurses to managers. All staff members were made aware that they could report medical errors anonymously and would not suffer retribution.

Since the drastic uptick in error reports, the safety team has been able to pinpoint certain weak spots in the hospital's service during their monthly meetings. Approximately 75% of the errors have already been addressed with changes in practice, such as the instruction to be more deliberative when preparing shots for children, in case the wrong medicine is used in a moment of absentmindedness. Additionally, whenever an error occurs, the hospital calls the patient to inform them of potential consequences. This and other reforms are now a part of hospital protocol.

Dr. Daniel Neuspiel, who led the study, hopes this program will spread throughout the United States.


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