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Where Things Go Wrong

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Where Things Go Wrong

By Jock Hoffman, CRICO

Related to: Claims, Patient Safety Awareness, Publications

With a medical malpractice database as big as CRICO’s national comparative benchmarking system (CBS), atypical adverse events become more visible. This is particularly apparent when we look at where the events that prompt allegations of malpractice occur. The clinical specialists who code the CBS cases can choose among more than 60 location codes to identify where the patient was when the triggering event happened.

 

Claims Made 2007–2016

N=56,889 cases, $10.9B incurred losses

Top 10 Locations

89% of cases &
89% of incurred losses

  • Physician Office
  • Operating Room
  • Ambulatory/Day Surgery
  • Patient’s Room
  • Emergency Room
  • Labor & Delivery
  • ICU (SICU, MICU, CCU)
  • Radiology
  • Dentistry/Oral Surgery
  • Inpatient (unspecified)

Other Locations

11% of cases &
11% of incurred losses

Procedure Settings
e.g., imaging, endoscopy, lab, dialysis, cardiac cath, radiation therapy

Pre/Post Treatment Areas
e.g., clinical transport, extended care, recovery room, patient’s home

Clinical Service
e.g., pathology, blood bank, medical records dept., pharmacy

Facility
e.g., grounds, parking area, elevator, stairs, rest rooms, hallways


 

As we would expect (and the chart illustrates), the vast majority (89%) of cases occur in the Top 10 locations: settings where the majority of health care is delivered. But the 11 percent of medmal cases that occur in less common care settings—or even outside of formal care settings—are spread across more than 45 location codes. Even for large health care organizations, the rarity of cases in any one of these atypical locations may be shielding the need for some general patient safety education and training. For health care providers and supporting staff in all delivery settings, the perspective enabled by a larger data set may help prevent adverse events where they are least expected.

In the typical centers of patient care, experience and volume dictate that adequate staffing, systems, and training be in place to anticipate patient safety risks and to respond appropriately to an adverse care event. The routine exposure to risk generally ensures preparedness essential to intercepting errors, rescuing patients on the precipice of harm, or initiating rescue/recovery efforts to reduce the impact of a medical mishap.

But an enterprise-wide commitment to preventing harm ensures that the culture of safety reaches wherever patients have care encounters (no matter how “minor”), or where those patients may end up before or after such encounters. In typically low-risk care settings as well as non-clinical locations, staff who are less attuned to patient safety protocols, and unfamiliar or inadequately trained for responding to an emergent adverse event, pose a potential risk to patients’ health and organizational liability. Some level of patient safety education and training is appropriate for everyone who encounters patients. For many clinicians—and most non-clinicians—such training might be their only exposure to patient safety, but patients expect to be safe wherever they are receiving care.

Additional Material


October 31, 2017
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