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Failure to Rescue

Failure to Rescue

Bouncing off yesterday’s major story that hospital mistakes affect one out of every 15 children, HealthGrades, the health care ratings organization, released its latest report on hospital safety. The report states that the biggest error in hospitals is “failure to rescue,” where caregivers don’t realize that a patient is dying. HealthGrades attributes this issue to approximately 188,000 preventable deaths in hospitals over a three-year period.

Overall, HealthGrades recorded 1.12 million safety incidents in hospital stays between 2004 and 2006, which led to 238,000 deaths due to mistakes and $8.8 billion in unneeded medical costs. Why is the “failure to rescue” error such a big problem? People attribute it to an overworked and inexperienced medical staff who have too many patients to take care of at any given time.

Experts say that people who come out of surgery or people who are on pain medication are most likely to fall into this “failure to rescue” category, since their conditions can deteriorate quickly. If you’re concerned that you might be in this situation, always ask your hospital if they have an adequate rapid response team to react in case conditions turn for the worst.

And most importantly, ask your family to serve as your advocate. If anything in your behavior or your breathing pattern changes, they should notify the staff right away. [MSNBC]

Posted: 4/8/08