Prevention of Medical Errors through Restrictions of Medical Disclosure
The patient’s welfare is necessary for top notch patient care but medical errors occur inevitably at any given time in any hospital. Most errors happen even though necessary precautions and procedures have been taken into account. Experts have analyzed that patients are in favour of keeping medical errors between the patient and physician (Baril et al, 2006). Although analysts have agreed that medical disclosure is legal and ethically correct, disclosure of medical errors from a physician’s point of view might hamper the progress or necessary improvement on health care procedures and treatment of patients (Baril et al, 2006). In any case, most patients opt to choose full disclosure when the patient’s condition or circumstances around him require it. Medical disclosures are associated with positive response or feedback from patients who have experienced medical disclosure. Medical disclosures may improve the patient’s trust to his physician, emit positive emotional response and may lower the likelihood of changing physicians.
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In any case, a critical step toward improvement of a health care system is to ensure that the system itself identifies errors that are happening within it (Fein et al, n.d.). This paper is set to identify existing medical errors and attempts devise possible solutions that could remedy these medical errors.
This paper would focus on identifying existing health care problems and will attempt to devise possible solutions that may help in solving these problems. In this way, disclosure of medical errors could be avoided and instead, necessary procedures that could prevent these errors from taking place may be applied.
There are various health care problems both in major and minor hospital situated in every part of the world. Some of the major problems are the cost of drug prescriptions, cost of expensive operations, issues about medical insurance and access to top quality health care (Garland, 2004). Analysis of these problems suggest that most issues about health care revolve around the lack of financial support needed to address the issues of cost of medications, surgeries, doctor fees and hospital fees (The Public on Health Care Cost, 2005). Financial issues often lead to medical errors when a hospital refuses to treat patients who cannot afford the price of certain operations. Medications and doctor fees are another set of problems that patients need to deal with. Patients usually rely on their medical insurance and health cards to cover their hospital bills, check-ups and simple operations, but these have limits and when patients are faced with serious health problems requiring expensive operations there are little options left for them to take (Garland, 2004). Moreover, drugs and medications are not covered by medical insurance and health cards and this usually compels them to avail of alternative medicines that may cause health repercussions than provide relief (Kizer, 2006).
There are also issues about medical mistakes done during operations and accidents involving misuse of medicines (Nordenberg, 2000). Issues just like these are often dealt privately by the physicians or the hospital staff who are involved in order to avoid larger scandal. The patient could suffer continuous pain, discomfort and his life will be put into the line (Wachter, 2001).
Patients who experience such circumstances often consult their respective physicians for alternative options regarding their health issues and during this period, a series of medical disclosures often take place. Even though medical disclosures are legal and patients have the right to choose this option, a huge amount of information would be put on hold that could be helpful in devising probable solutions to these medical errors and problems.
It is necessary for health officials to know the medical errors within the health care system. Some steps are deemed indispensable for improvements would not be realized if certain information are put on hold through medical disclosures. To overcome such obstacle, health officials should consider putting restrictions about the rights of the patients for medical disclosure. By doing this, health officials could have a much easier time correcting medical mistakes and errors in the health care system. Moreover, integrating restrictions to medical disclosure would allow health officials to observe carefully the patient’s conditions and health records (Claus, 2006). Aside from making the patient’s condition visible enough for regular monitoring, health officials may also be made aware of the operation procedures and the physician’s skills during surgery (Astion, 2003).
When it comes to medications, policy and health bills should consider the idea of including exceptional medicines to the coverage of health card and medical insurance. The term exceptional would refer to medications that could not be covered by the patient’s monthly income or annual salary. In this way, patients would not go for alternative medicines or drugs that are not approved by food and drug institutions that could bring side effects to these patients.
Access to health cards and medical insurance should also be increased and widened in scope. There are still people who are not registered for either medical insurance or health cards that is why there are cases where some patients are not admitted to hospitals despite the grave health conditions they are in (Garland, 2004). Increase in medical assistance for handicapped and low earning patients should also be considered, since these are the sectors who need medical attention the most.
Implementation of these possible solutions is only possible through continuous communication and cooperation among health officials, legislators and patients. Patients should be aware that medical disclosure despite its benefits, could only be helpful in certain circumstances. On the other hand, restricting medical disclosure may allow health officials to be alert, flexible and perceptive of any medical errors at any given time.
Medical disclosure may protect the interest of patients under certain circumstances but it is still best that information regarding the patient’s health condition be open as much as possible to people who could help in improving not only the patient’s condition but also the health care system as a whole. Through such openness, cooperation could be established that might open possibilities for improvements and further prevention of medical errors.
Astion, M. et al. (2003). Classifying Laboratory Incident Reports to Identify Problems That Jeopardize Patient Safety. Clinical Pathology. 120(1).
Baril J. et al (2006). Disclosure of Medical Errors: What Factors Influence How Patients Respond? Retrieved April 22, 2008, from http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1924693
Claus, B. et al (2006). . Impact of Computerized Physician Order Entry on Medication Prescription Errors in the Intensive Care Unit: a Controlled Cross-Sectional Trial. Critical Care. 10(1).
Fein, S. et al. (n.d). A Conceptual Model for Disclosure of Medical Errors. Retrieved April 22, 2008 from http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/advances/vol2/Fein.pdf
Garland, M. (2004). Health Values Survey. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from http://www.oregonhealthdecisions.org/PDFs/HVS04_Report.pdf
Kizer, K.W. & Stegun, M.B. (2006). Serious Reportable Adverse Events in Health Care. Retrieved April 24, 2008 from http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/advances/vol4/Kizer2.pdf
Nordenberg, T. (2001). Make No Mistake: Medical Errors Can Be Deadly Serious. Retrieved April 23, 2008 from http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/2000/500_err.html
The Public on Health Care Cost. (2005). Retrieved April 23, 2008 from http://www.kff.org/spotlight/healthcosts/upload/Spotlight_Dec05_healthcosts.pdf
Wachter, R.M. (2001). Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices. Retrieved April 23 2008 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/bv.fcgi?rid=hstat1.chapter.59276