Medical safety innovation gets a boost from systematic analysis

If all medical errors were counted together as a single cause, they would likely rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. As health care personnel race to improve the quality of their care to save lives and prevent unneeded harm, a new study indicates there is more they can do to learn about what errors are occurring and why.

Researchers from the Drexel University School of Public Health demonstrated a systematic analysis of hospital administrative data for patient safety at a population level, in a recent paper in the Journal of Healthcare Risk Management. They say that health care organisations have an untapped opportunity to use their own administrative data in this way as a ‘springboard to problem identification’ at the leading edge of preventing even those medical errors that are not yet preventable.

‘For example, a patient may receive a drug in the Emergency Department and develop an allergic reaction, but did not have any known allergies at the time of treatment,’ said Dr. Jennifer Taylor, an associate professor at Drexel who led the study. ‘While such events may not be deemed to be preventable now, we need to start tracking them so our research and development colleagues know what