Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, once stated that “the only constant in life is change.” Likewise, Benjamin Franklin opined that “when you are finished changing, you are finished.” Each of these quotes touches on the theme that the world and the people living in it are constantly evolving. Without change, there cannot be improvement.
Businesses, industries, organizations, and professionals are no different. Progress requires attention to detail, identification of problems, and change to effect better processes and improve outcomes. Nowhere is this more important than in hospitals and with health care professionals, where change can address problems and save lives, while a failure to change can cost lives. This blog post will examine four of the issues facing hospitals in 2023.
Patient Safety Issues Confronting Hospitals
Publications in the healthcare industry have identified numerous issues facing hospitals this year. Below we will discuss four such patient safety challenges.
1. Addressing Staffing Shortages
It does not come as a surprise that hospitals have faced staffing shortages. According to Becker’s Hospital Digest, the American Hospital Association reports that 100,000 nurses left the workforce between 2019 and 2022. That represented the most significant decline in 40 years.
The reasons for understaffing can vary. First, we see almost daily news reports indicating that businesses across most industries have struggled to hire enough workers. Additionally, the pandemic has had a profound effect on healthcare workers. Some left the workforce for safety reasons. Some worked almost unbearable hours during the pandemic and left the workforce as a result.
Unfortunately, hospitals also sometimes understaff in an effort to save money, which increases profits. In addition, to hire workers in a challenging environment, some hospitals hire unqualified workers or employees with questionable backgrounds. Whatever the challenges, hospitals must meet certain legal obligations to provide appropriate patient staffing.
2. Reducing Hospital – Acquired Infections
Obviously, people go to the hospital to heal and get well. However, sometimes the opposite happens. One example is when patients contract infections while in the hospital. Sometimes they are minor and can be cleared up. However, in other cases, they can become life-threatening.
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, hospital–acquired infections declined for years, until 2020, when they increased. Then, in 2021, certain conditions increased up to 14 percent compared to the previous year. Hospitals must bring this issue under control. They can be held liable if their negligence causes the spread of infection and harm.
3. Identifying Patients Correctly
The Joint Commission, a non-profit accrediting body in health care, has identified several important goals to help improve patient safety. According to the organization, the goals consider problems in the healthcare industry and how hospitals can solve them. Correctly identifying patients is one such goal. The organization recommends that hospitals identify patients in at least two ways so that they receive the correct medication and the intended treatment. If hospitals make incorrect identifications, obviously bad results can occur, and hospitals and staff can be held liable for their negligence.
4. Preventing Mistakes in Surgery
This goal, also identified by the Joint Commission, focuses on ensuring the following: (a) that the correct surgery is performed; (b) that the surgery is performed on the correct patient; and (c) that the surgery is performed on the correct part of the patient’s body. While these issues may seem obvious, these mistakes still occur and must be addressed.
Call with Questions
Hospitals and other healthcare providers must meet the applicable standard of care when providing treatment and services. If they fail to do so and the failure causes harm to a patient, the provider can be found liable for medical malpractice. The experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer any questions you may have in a free consultation. It is important to hold negligent healthcare providers accountable for their actions so that society will be safer for all citizens.