Medical mistakes are believed to cause as many as 98-thousand deaths a year in the U.S. and this week Minnesota became the first state in the nation to compile and release a list of healthcare mistakes that harmed patients. Doctor Tom Evans, chair of the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative, says every healthcare provider in this state is working on the issue of quality-of-care.He says “We’re in a very interesting time for the practice of medicnie,” and the discovery of un-intended outcomes when delivering healthcare has been a “sobering realization” for the healthcare industry over the last decade or so. Doctor Evans says it’s not enough to declare that everyone makes mistakes now and then, even your doctor. Evans says we may not expect doctors to be perfect, but we do expect them to communicate with us and if something’s happened to be honest with us, and make sure we know what’s going on. Doctor Evans says all the state are trying to figure out how to reduce mistakes and improve patient safety. He says in 2003, healthcare providers got together in the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative, formed by the state medical association and hospital association. Iowa ranks sixth in the nation in Medicare’s quality measurements (CMS, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) and he notes that we’re 50th in the nation in the level of Medicare reimbursement payments to our healthcare providers, so “It’s not only quality, it’s value.” Evans says the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative is working to improve care even further and he says we’re doing what Minnesota’s doing, without a law to require it. He says the trick is to build processes that will not allow mistakes to happen, “fail-safe” mechanisms where you can’t cut off the wrong leg or give the wrong dose of the wrong medicine. A big part of that is computer technology, costly though it is. Evans says every hospital in the state is working to computerize — physician order entry, medical records online, all that stuff, so whether you go to your doctor’s office, an E-R or the OBGYN’s office, all your records can “talk to each other.” Other plans include “cultures of safety” so instead of the attitude that someone makes a mistake, every member of a team feels qualified to recognize and try and remedy situations that might lead to such a mistake.
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