Most Health Care Workers Observe Deadly Mistakes, But Do Nothing

You may remember a story I posted last week about the spike of prescription-related deaths at the beginning of each month due to increased workloads on pharmacists that create the opportunity for more errors. A new study about health care professionals and the errors they observe their colleagues commit while caring for patients -- but not telling them about those same mistakes -- ought to make you think twice about the next stay in the hospital...

An astounding 80 PERCENT of U.S. doctors and HALF of the nurses polled reported they had seen colleagues make mistakes, but less than 10 PERCENT ever spoke up about them, contributing to the number of Americans who needlessly die every year due to medical errors, researchers said.

By the numbers:

  • Eighty-four percent of doctors and 62 percent of nurses and other care providers have seen co-workers repeatedly TAKING SHORTCUTS that could endanger their patients.
  • Eighty-eight percent of doctors and 48 percent of nurses and other providers work with people who show POOR CLINICAL JUDGMENT. Even worse, the problems seem concentrated among a small percentage of colleagues -- about 10 percent.
  • About 20 percent of the doctors have OBSERVED HARM come to patients as a result of the behavior of those colleagues.

The "silver lining," if there's one to be found, in this study: Those who did raise concerns observed better patient care by their peers and were more satisfied and committed to their jobs because of their candor.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer January 27, 2005

Yahoo News January 26, 2005

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