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Patient safety in hospitals is not improving. That is the conclusion of recent study, conducted from 2002-2007 that looked at 10 North Carolina hospitals -- a sample that researchers believe is accurately indicative of a national problem.
The main issue when with patient safety involves complications from medical procedures, drugs and hospital-related infections. The study also found that although the majority of the problems were preventable, there did not seem to be a change over time.
Temporary and preventable problems seem to be the easiest to correct. Not so according to study researcher Dr. Landrigan, "Until there is a more coordinated effort to implement those strategies proven to be beneficial, I think that progress in this area will be very slow."
There is also the reporting problem: hospitals aren't self reporting enough. Dr. Landrigan advocates for a mandatory national reporting system that will help better track problems and hopefully serve as a catalyst for national change.
The study has less to do with individual medical malpractice issues and more to do with systemic issues inherent in treating large volumes of patients on a daily basis.
Medicine, like any other profession, has its flaws. Unfortunately, it is a field where flaws and mistakes can cost lives. It's also a profession in need of better internal and external monitoring to ensure that the mistakes are kept to a minimum.