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Are Patients Safe in Hospitals?

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Palanas, Masbate Beach

Patient safety at the Beach

Patient Safety in hospitals is the avoidance, prevention and amelioration of adverse outcome/injuries stemming from the process of health care (Institute of Medicine, 2000). It refers to actions undertaken by individuals and organizations to protect health care recipients from being harmed by effects of healthcare services.

In a much publicized Institute of Medicine Report in 1999, it reveals that at least “44,000” and possibly “as high as 98,000” die in US annually due to “medical errors”, which, if further validly verified, may already be considered to be the 8th leading cause of death in US.

The report made a major media splash and cries of shock and horror were heard from the
public and Capitol Hill leading to a call for reporting system and increase of budget by USD20 million for AHRQ. It focused national attention on patient safety and heightened the awareness of the public health care providers, professional societies, hospitals and the government.

In a more recent US studies, it suggested that medical errors occur in 2.9% to 3.7% of hospital admission, 8.8% to 13.6% of errors lead to death and 2% of hospital admission are preventable adverse events resulting in increase of LOS to 4.6 days and hospital cost per admission.

Is there a local study?

There is no formal study on the issue in the Philippines but it is observed that medical error-related cases are noted in hospitals, such as , but not limited to, blood transfusion incidents, deaths due to neonatal sepsis (hospital delivered), medication errors, injuries to ureter and injuries on infant’s fingers during cesarean section, death due to administration of anesthesia, post-partum hemorrhage some resulting to death and, even, drowning. So far, no formal reporting system had been adopted, more probably due to a stigma that accompanies negligence.

Without knowing first the actual magnitude of the problem in the local settings, the policy makers, due to a pragmatic consideration, indulge immediately on intervention. PhilHealth included patient safety improvement in their standards and Department of Health (DOH) launched the Patient Safety Program in 2008. Selected hospitals, such as, Philippine Heart Center, National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI), St. Lukes and Medical City implemented the Patient Safety Program.

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