Joseph Taraska works as an attorney from Orlando, Florida, specializing in medical malpractice. In the following article, Joseph Taraska discusses how medical mistakes rose 19% in 2022, and what individuals should do to protect themselves and their rights as patients.
A sentinel event is an event involving a patient that suffers from severe temporary harm, permanent harm, or even death. These events are caused by medical errors, which are often preventable.
Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida explains that the main causes of these sentinel events were failures in communication, teamwork, and adherence to policies and procedures. There were several presentations of such events, including falls, treatment delays, surgical errors, self-harm, and more. To prevent these mistakes from continuing to rise in frequency, healthcare providers need to become more disciplined and consistent, report mistakes reliably, and initiate policy changes.
Below, Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida discusses the causes of the 19% rise in medical mistakes in 2022, describes the events that occurred most frequently, and illuminates the potential opportunities for improvement in the medical field as a whole.
Causes of Medical Errors Resulting in Sentinel Events
Unfortunately, medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Most of those medical errors are entirely preventable.
Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida says that failures in communication can occur in either verbal or written form. Anyone in the facility can be associated with communication errors, including physicians, nurses, other healthcare professionals, and even patients. In most cases, communication failures culminate due to an inadequate flow of information through the facility, resulting in harmful events for patients.
When failures in teamwork occur between healthcare facility staff members, it is often because the employees are overworked and fatigued. Patients in a hospital or other healthcare facility are always managed by a team, not an individual, and if the members of one team are not all on the same exact page regarding symptoms, appropriate treatment, and readiness for discharge, errors are incredibly likely to occur.
In many cases, Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida reports that poor adherence to standard policies and procedures is the cause of medical mistakes. These rules and guidelines are in place for a reason, and when they are ignored by healthcare staff, harm to the patients is often the consequence.
Sentinel Events That Occurred Most Frequently
In 2022, the top five sentinel events that occurred most frequently are the following:
- Patient falls (42%)
- Delay in treatment (6%)
- Unintended retention of a foreign object (6%)
- Undergoing incorrect surgery (6%)
- Suicide (5%)
Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida says that other common medical mistakes included assault/rape/sexual assault, fire/burns, perinatal events, self-harm, and medication management errors.
Of all the events reported in 2022, 20% resulted in death, 44% resulted in severe temporary harm, and additional care/hospitalization was required in 13% of cases.
Opportunities for Improvement
There are many available opportunities in healthcare facilities to improve patient care and reduce the number of medical errors that occur.
Healthcare Professional Discipline & Consistency
Discipline and consistency are two of the most important traits that healthcare professionals need to prioritize throughout their shifts. Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida explains that these characteristics influence how adherent the staff are to safety policies and standard procedures, how much time and attention they give to each task, and how dependable they are when taking care of patients.
To identify and address medical mistakes that occur in any healthcare facility, they must be reported. Unfortunately, Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida reports that many hospitals have developed a culture around reporting medical errors that is centered around a fear of punishment and humiliation. Encouraging reliable reporting of mistakes, whether serious or inconsequential, is the best way to improve patient care and implement solutions that will prevent errors.
In some circumstances, the absence of clear guidelines and policies is the real reason behind these errors. This absence may occur due to poor documentation, poor accessibility, or the fact that the policies don’t exist at all.
Joseph Taraska, attorney from Orlando, Florida reports that developing policies for all aspects of patient care, making them accessible to staff members, and updating ones that are not up to par is the only way to ensure that every healthcare professional can be a productive member of the team.
Patient care may not be rocket science, but it does require that healthcare providers employ common sense practices and follow procedures down to the letter. It is imperative that the whole industry begins to address medical blunders that result in serious patient harm.