The purpose of this research is to determine whether hospital errors and infections are the leading causes of preventable death. As it was stated by various studies that will be examined below, hospital and medication errors might significantly contribute to the fatal outcomes of patients. These errors are common and may be the cause of work pressure and the shortage of time that the hospital workers have to endure. Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) are the cause of complications caused by patients’ stay in hospital; some of them can progress in the first 48 hours after the operation, while others take more time to develop. HAI is viewed as one of the most common causes of mortality in hospitals.
Hospital errors and infections can lead to severe complications, disability, and death. They can be caused by pressure and stress that nurses and physicians experience, as well as a lack of detailed information about the patient and his or her medical history (Pham et al., 2011, p. 484). Hospital infections are usually acquired through hospitalization and equipment that was used during it. These two issues are a serious concern, even a danger to American patients. To avoid mortality during hospitalization and decrease mortality rates linked to HAIs, one needs a better understanding of the causes behind them; the purpose of any treatment and any hospital is to cure the patient, not to make him disabled. I find these problems to be of utter importance because many deaths can be prevented if the topic is researched thoroughly. Moreover, the reasons behind the errors and infections can help avoid possible complications during the clinical practice and make the physician carefully choose medication for treatment.
General Problem Statement
The general problem is the prevalence of errors and infections in medical practice. Infections can be imported by anyone, including medical workers and patients’ relatives or visitors; it is not possible to keep all the hospital’s floors in perfect sanitary conditions, that is why disease spread can increase during epidemic outbreaks. As for medical errors, although they have become more or less transparent in the last years, it is still necessary to obtain as much data as possible to understand during which phases they occur and which medical errors lead to preventable death.
Specific Problem Statement
The specific problem is the clinical impact of hospital errors and infections on patients’ fatal outcomes. The HAIs rate of mortality makes up almost 6% (100,000 fatal outcomes per year) in the US (Lobdell, Stamou, & Sanchez, 2012, p. 65). Medical errors are responsible for 19% of the adverse events in patients who were hospitalized, i.e. almost “6.5 events per 100 hospital admissions” (Pham et al., 2011, p. 485). The most common medical errors include wrong interpretation of the medication label, wrong (or lacking) identification of the patient, incorrect storage of medication, usage of wrong mixture/medication, drug incompatibility, etc. (Pham et al., 2011, p. 488). Other types of errors include calculation errors, performance deficit, failed communication, distractions, etc. (Pham et al., 2011, p. 488). Do all of these mistakes contribute to the mortality during hospitalization or are they noted just in time to avoid fatal outcomes? These questions are the reason why I want to research this topic. HAIs are also assumed to have a particular contribution to mortality rates in hospitals (Lobdell et al., 2012, p. 66). Such infections are divided into catheter-related bloodstream infections, ventilator-associated pneumonia, surgical site infection, and catheter-associated urinary tract infection (Lobdell et al., 2012, p. 65). There are several organisms associated with the listed infections, but do all of the HAIs lead to a lethal outcome? The preventive methods also need to be studied to understand if they decrease, increase, or have no impact on the fatal outcomes. Moreover, complications and conditions triggered by the infections also might increase the mortality rate among patients with HAIs. Such infections as sepsis, pneumonia, Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD) may increase fatal outcomes among trauma patients (Lobdell et al., 2012, p. 69). The data about patients with HAIs needs to be analyzed to draw a conclusion on whether or not these infections cause preventable death.
The purpose of this research is to understand the connection between medical/clinical errors and infections and preventable death rates. The goal is to bring more information about the discussed topic to the scientific literature (Jacobsen, 2011, p. 3). The research aims not only to analyze the connection between the medical errors/ infections and fatal outcomes but also to describe what factors played their role in the registered deaths. The connection of HAIs to age, sex, medical history, mechanism of injury, and other characteristics of the patient requires thorough analysis. The severity, the frequency, and type of the errors might also be connected to the preventable deaths; the staff involved, the incorrectly prescribed medicine/mixture, the time of the day, as well as equipment, can affect the outcome of the case (Pham et al., 2011, p. 490). The research aims to examine the specifics of each case and determine whether or not they are connected to preventable death.
The research addressed the following research questions:
- RQ1. What type of medical error is made more often?
- RQ2. How does this type (these types) affect the preventable mortality rates?
- RQ3. What hospital-acquired infections are common among patients?
- RQ4. How do they correlate with preventable mortality rates?
Jacobsen, K. H. (2011). Introduction to health research methods. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Lobdell, K. W., Stamou, S., & Sanchez, J. A. (2012). Hospital-acquired infections. Surgical Clinics of North America, 92(1), 65-77.
Pham, J. C., Story, J. L., Hicks, R. W., Shore, A. D., Morlock, L. L., Cheung, D. S., & Pronovost, P. J. (2011). National study on the frequency, types, causes, and consequences of voluntarily reported emergency department medication errors. The Journal of emergency medicine, 40(5), 485-492.