Fear of the Unknown

For many of us, there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of our smartphone breaking.  Our heart sinks and panic sets in as the phone slips from our grasp and plunges to its doom upon the hard ground below.  This is the reason Americans invest billions each year in protective covers and screens. Not because an accident will definitely happen, but so they are covered in case it does.

For many Americans, their biggest fears are of the unknown.  A recent US survey indicated that Terrorism was the 2nd highest thing Americans fear most, with a total 41% of respondents saying they are fearful of a terrorist attack[1].  Many individuals are also wary of the risk of an accident, be it an unforeseen automobile accident, or something as unlikely as a shark attack.  This is why we continually invest in new tools and technologies designed to provide insurance and protect us when fear becomes a reality.

Medical Errors, the Hidden Killer

While billions are spent annually on upgrading the safety of automobiles, or protecting us from an outside attack, one of the biggest hidden killers in the US is something we rarely think about.  A study published in the BMJ found that the 3rd leading cause of death is not something that fills news headlines, like natural disasters or firearm related deaths, but medical errors.  The study found that fatal errors occurred in 0.71% of hospital admissions, leading to over 251,000 patient’s deaths annually[2].  Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study stated that often “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care.”  While terrorism might be Americans second biggest fear, you are thousands of times more likely to die from a medical error than from a terrorist attack.

To mitigate the risk of hospital acquired conditions and adverse events, hospitals are allocating resources and attention to preventing incidents like CAUTI, Surgical Site Infections and Falls.  While the incidence of these events has decreased as greater oversight and benchmarks have been established, the prevalence of patient identification errors is still an issue that hospitals must deal with.  In fast-paced patient care, there are numerous opportunities for patient ID errors, which increase as clinicians must now perform multiple duties and tasks across various patients.  A recent survey by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement found that 21 percent of adults report having personally experienced a medical error and 31 percent of Americans report that someone else whose care they were closely involved with experienced an error[3].

Positive Patient Identification is the Foundation of Patient Safety

Each year the Joint Commission publishes its National Patient Safety Goals.  These goals identify key initiatives and areas healthcare professionals should focus on to maximize patient safety and minimize the risk of adverse events.  The Joint Commission recently published their 2018 goals and the number one national patient safety goal continues to be “improving the accuracy of patient identification,” which has topped the list for the past several years in a row.

National Patient Safety Goal 1 indicates that “wrong-patient errors occur in virtually all stages of diagnosis and treatment.” The intent for this goal is two-fold: “first, to reliably identify the individual as the person for whom the service or treatment is intended; second, to match the service or treatment to that individual.”

Proper patient identification is a critical component of effective and safe care.  While hospitals are now seeing an influx of patients through their Emergency Departments, the amount of resources and budget allocated to properly identifying and caring for these patients is diminishing.  Hospitals must now balance the impact of being measured on the effectiveness of their care, but also minimize the cost to assist in that very care.

That is why more than ever it is critical to find solutions to help properly identify and protect patients, so patients coming into a facility are protected and better off leaving than when they entered.  For more than 60 years, PDC Healthcare has been your partner in providing safe and effective patient identification solutions. Over 90% of hospitals rely upon PDC Healthcare solutions today, and our extensive portfolio of identification tools help ensure positive patient identification, reduce medical errors, improve patient safety and helps organizations improve fiscal performance.

Please contact PDC today to find the right solution for you and help eliminate the fear of patient identification errors.  For more information and to view our complete portfolio of patient safety and cost reducing solutions, visit us at www.pdchealthcare.com.

[1] https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/10/12/survey-top-10-things-americans-fear-most/91934874/

[2] https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-03/medical-errors-are-third-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-us

[3] http://www.ihi.org/about/news/Documents/IHIPressRelease_Patient_Safety_Survey_Sept28_17.pdf

What’s Scarier than Americans’ Biggest Fears?  Recent Study Suggests Medical Errors
Article Name
What’s Scarier than Americans’ Biggest Fears? Recent Study Suggests Medical Errors
Medical errors are something we rarely think about, but in fact are one of the largest hidden killers in the US. Learn more about the 2018 National Patient Safety Goals and what your hospital can do to protect its patient's safety.
Previous articleQuick Reference Guide to Mammography Skin Markers
Next articleWhat’s Keeping Hospital Pharmacy Professionals Up at Night in 2018
Owen Rooney
Owen Rooney is a Marketing Manager of Patient Identification at PDC, where he works with hospital clients to help identify and provide solutions for their unique needs and challenges. Prior to joining PDC, Owen worked in the medical device industry for the last 13 years, the last seven of which were in Product Management. He helped to create a patient safety solutions program that helped hospitals save money, reduced patient injuries, and made nurses jobs more efficient. In his free time, Owen enjoys spending time with family, traveling, camping, and sports (specifically basketball, football, and baseball). For 2 years, he lived on an island with a population of 15,000 people.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here