Where We Live: Patient Safety

Patient safety is one of the nation's most pressing health care challenges

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Scott Ellner
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Eric Stockman
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Jean Rexford
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Patient Safety
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Patient Safety

Patient safety is one of the nation's most pressing health care challenges.

Patient safety advocates say that thousands of people are put in harm’s way from preventable hospital-acquired infections and medical errors.

Connecticut alone reported more than 16-hundred “adverse hospital events” 2004 and 2011, including 157 cases in which patients died.

But reporting by the Connecticut Health Investigative Team shows that few of these cases are actually investigated by the state.

Today where we live - medical errors and hospital-acquired infections that endanger patients and increase the cost of health care.

Today, we’ll talk to patient care advocates, physicians, and lawyers about how we can make our hospitals safer and protect the rights of patients.

We want to hear from you. do you have questions or concerns about patient safety?  



In my opinion, nurses should

In my opinion, nurses should not work for more than 12 hours a day. Patient safety is really compromised if they are on duty and very sleepy. They are not that attentive when an emergency happens.

There should be a law regarding patient's safety in the hospital.

Michael Gaither
Tampa injury lawyer

Hospital and Nursing Home Saftey

This is an important topic for the good of society. We need to have closer scrutiny in how these systems work. My mother who is 87 and lives in a Nursing Home broke her arm some months ago. She spent 5 hours in the emergency room and when I called the nurse ( I live in another state) she told me they were done, but it would between fifteen minutes and 4 hours before transport took her home. She was confused had no one to one, was trying to get out of bed, and at a serious risk for falling again. No one was available to take her 5 minutes across the street to her nursing home. No one from the home was available to come to get her. This unfortunately is a minor episode in her care. People need to be really vigilant, especially for elders when they enter in the medical system. http://nursinghomecall.blogspot.com/

Listener Email from Linda

To this day, I believe my father died in the hospital due to an "adverse event". He checked himself in on a Wednesday due to a pancreas attack, didn't tell his two children he was there so as not to worry us. No one called us until Saturday, to say he had been also going through "alcohol withdrawl", apparently slowed and then stopped breathing on Friday, they spent far too long trying to revive him, and he was in a coma. He ended up brain dead, and a week later we had to pull the plug. My mother had died the year before, and we had no idea he was drinking a few every night. Other than that, he was a very healthy 73 year old.

I still think about this years later, because no one could tell us really what or why this happened, and in fact, I got the impression from one nurse that this all "shouldn't have happened", but she never said more than that. I don't think anyone was watching him at night, I read in his file he was "restrained", and I feel perhaps he vomited and chocked or something. Why did it take so long for the night nurse to find and help him? Why did they wait so many days to go in his wallet, find my cell number and contact me? And where does the family go to find answers, other than a law suit? Anyway, my point is that more safety procedures need to be in place, and reporting of this needs to be more open so that it doesn't happen again. I'm sure that nurse could shed some light on this, but she would have "lost her job" if she did. It will haunt me for life, not knowing what really happened...or if the hospital was merely covering up their mistake.

Listener Email from Mary

am listening to your show. You haven’t addressed one issue that I think greatly affects health care in hospitals and that is medical residency system. Currently, residents (doctors in training out of medical school) work 80+ hours per week. They often have 27 to 30 hour shifts. They often are so tired they can’t remember basic things. They also receive very low pay—seems like a way for the hospitals to get “slave” labor.

I feel this system is compromising the safety of patients in hospitals around the country. I am told it used to be 100 hours per week requirement and was reduced to 80 hours per week and if the doctors can’t cut it, they shouldn’t be doctors. This is not a good system.

What the man said about less work hours is not true. I know several residents, and they do not get 2 hour naps during their long calls. They barely get time to go to the bathroom. They are forced to put down 80 hours on their time sheet even when they have to work more than 80 hours a week.

I know residents in various hospitals in and out of CT, and most of them work 80 hours with no breaks during shifts. (There are some fields where the hours aren’t as long such as pathology, etc.) It is not in the culture to be allowed to complain about the hours—negative reviews—because all the doctors before them have had to do the long hours. Our residency program in this country should be revised. If the public found out their doctors are working these hours, they would be appalled and choose another hospital where there isn’t a residency program. This would be a good NPR investigative story.