Internal issues and corporate governance

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Causes and impact of health care provider errors on patient safety

Medical errors are serious problems for all the stakeholders involved especially the patients and the healthcare providers. Health care providers try to provide the competent, safe and compassionate care for their patients at all levels. However, this is not always the case, and sometimes, healthcare errors are reported. Many cases contributing to healthcare errors by health care providers have been reported in different parts of the world. Many approaches have equally been identified that can be taken to mitigate the situation and achieve the goal of no medical errors.

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Medical procedures that are carried out in healthcare facilities are designed to improve the health of the patient. Sometimes in the process, the patients are harmed by the health care providers which could have detrimental effects on the patient. Investigations into the cause of the increased medical errors always point to a breakdown in the communication among hospital staff. Mistakes that are reported in many cases occur when medical procedures are delayed or rescheduled. Operating rooms are turned over quickly while the nurses also change shifts increasing the risks of medical error (Sharpe, 2014).

Another cause of healthcare errors is a misdiagnosis. This shows that there have been different kinds of medical malpractices where a condition can be undiagnosed or inaccurate diagnosis given. When this happens, the patients are treated with the wrong medical procedures that will not cure the illness they could be suffering from. As a result, medical errors are inevitable as the errors started from the initial stage of diagnosis. Another cause is the failure to communicate; this is a common cause of medical errors. Crucial medical details are often lost, and as a result, healthcare errors are reported. Patients and health care providers have the responsibility of communicating all important information regarding certain treatment to ensure that attention to detail is taken to minimize medical errors. Careless regarding hygiene and incompetent doctors also significantly contribute to increased medical errors. Insufficient reforms and poor treatment plans also contribute to healthcare errors. When patients are treated, but no follow-up plan is implemented, there is a high likelihood that healthcare errors might occur (Vincent, 2016).

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The consequences of health care errors by providers affect not only the patients but also the healthcare professionals and all other stakeholders. One of the consequences is the fact that it increases the patient’s risk. The patient could even die if the error is very critical. Other effects to the patients include suffering physical pain, their health status worsening, patients getting upset. There are other effects that affect the provision patient care, care is delayed, and the patients are admitted to hospital. Other consequences include the financial, time and cost effects, where more funds and time is taken in correcting the health care errors that might have occurred.

Measures to ensure patient safety and the stakeholders responsible for those measures

Ensuring that the patients are safe is a shared responsibility across all the stakeholders in healthcare. All players are responsible for ensuring that no harm occurs to the patients. The stakeholders that can ensure that the patients are safe to include the doctors, nurses, administrators and the government through legislation. Nurses are, however, charged with more responsibility when it comes to patients’ safety because they spend most of the time with the patients.

One of the critical measures that can be taken is defining quality. This would ensure that the healthcare facility that the patient seeks to receive treatment provides quality care. All healthcare facilities should assure their patients of quality care. This can be enforced by ensuring adequate medical personnel and other equipment required in the provision of quality care to the patients. Another measure is recognizing best medical practices. This is a measure that would ensure only the best medical practices are carried out in healthcare facilities (Zipperer, 2014).

The government is also a major stakeholder that can enforce the existing regulations in the health sector. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), most cases of medical malpractices have not been prosecuted. This gives room to the healthcare practitioners who have been accused of malpractices to continue operating. The government should also make sure that only well-trained healthcare practitioners are allowed to attend to patients to avoid cases of incompetent doctors causing healthcare errors. Another important measure that could be taken to ensure patient safety is ensuring clear treatment plans for the patients. Most healthcare facilities have no clear plans which make it hard for hospital readmissions as a result of the absence of clear follow-up plans.

Role of healthcare organizations in ensuring patient safety

It is the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure patients safety. Healthcare organizations, however, have the critical role of ensuring that the patients that visit their facilities are safe and attended with care. Different measures that should be taken by different health facilities should address the errors that lead to increased patient complains. One of the roles of health facilities is to address medication errors. This is the medical error that involves patients getting the wrong medication that ends up doing more harm than good. Healthcare facilities should ensure trained pharmacists are employed to correct the errors. Diagnostic errors have led to the most cases of medical errors. It is therefore essential to put in place patient safety monitors to ensure that there is a positive response to the patients. Diagnostic errors cause many deaths of patients, and therefore it would be essential to ensure that the patients are well monitored to ensure they are being treated well (Vincent, 2016).

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It would be important for the different healthcare facilities in the country to ensure comprehensive discharge plans for patients to reduce the high rate of hospital readmissions is also as a result of healthcare errors. Discharge errors in health facilities have led to increased cost of healthcare to patients who end up paying more for the same condition that could have treated. It is also the role of health facilities to provide advanced medical equipment that will assist in providing quality care to the patients. Patients’ safety depends on the kind of medical equipment being used. Modern equipment is safer, and so the health facilities should provide the best. Health facilities should also come up with better ways of managing patients’ data. This would reduce cases of errors that may arise as a result of poor patient records.

Regulatory agencies and how they influence the functioning of healthcare organizations

There are different organizations tasked with the role of regulating health care. Office of health care Quality (OHCQ) is one of the agencies tasked with the responsibility of ensuring quality health to patients. Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) is another crucial regulation that provides government-subsidized medical covers. Medicare takes care of the elderly and the disabled while Medicaid takes care of the low-income individuals and families. Other regulation agencies include the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which examines public health and warns of health threats. The America Hospital Association (AHA) is another agency that promotes public welfare by ensuring the provision of better healthcare in hospitals.

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Effects of liability litigation risks on health care organizations

The liability risk is designed to provide healthcare providers with incentives to take optimal care against medical errors. The growth of medical misconduct liability costs is significantly affecting the delivery of health services in the United States. The high medical malpractice payments is resulting in high malpractice premiums which fail to address the objective of providing incentives to healthcare professionals. The premiums may adversely affect the size and composition of the physician workforce in the country. Although there are various reforms aimed at improving medical productivity through the reduction of medical malpractices and misconduct, defensive medical practices are significantly increased. Doctors in the country are faced with malpractice pressure thereby increasing their defensive treatment practices (Byers, 2015).

Perceptions and concerns regarding medical liabilities have adversely affected how health care providers respond to patients. In some cases, diagnostic testing and consultations are only carried out to satisfy the legal risk that may arise in case a malpractice suit is filed. Doctors work under pressure and are sometimes interested in maintaining their license as opposed to providing the best care to the patients.To eliminate the risk of malpractices, some of the surgeons have eliminated the high-risk operations that could see them sued for malpractice. The increasing concerns about medical liability have increased defensive medicine practices.

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  1. Byers, J. F., & White, S. V. (2015). Patient safety: Principles and practice. New York: Springer.
  2. Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2012). Health IT and patient safety: Building safer systems for better care. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press
  3. Sharpe, V. A. (2014). Accountability: Patient safety and policy reform. Washington, D.C: Georgetown University Press
  4. Vincent, C. (2016). Patient safety. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell
  5. Zipperer, L. A. (2014). Patient safety: Perspectives on evidence, information and knowledge transfer. Wiley & Sons.
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