One Doctor’s Plan to Increase Patient Safety

Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article written by a surgeon in which he outlines five steps that he feels hospitals could take to increase accountability and minimize potential malpractice. The author, Marty Makary, has worked at a surgeon in such renowned facilities as Johns Hopkins Hospital and DC General. Makary’s suggestions are straight-forward, and in some cases even border on obvious, but they have yet to be implemented in many area hospitals.

First, Makary believes that hospitals should have a “dashboard” online, to allow prospective patients to see important statistics about infections, surgical errors, etc. Secondly, he suggests hospitals record a “safety culture score,” which would measure the confidence that hospital staff have in their fellow team members. Next, Makary feels that utilizing cameras would help both as an increased safety and accountability measure and as a catch-all for symptoms that may have been missed during a screening. Fourth, a system of open notes, in which doctors make their notes available to the patient. This, he feels, can increase transparency, and serve as a reminder to the patient of anything he or she may have forgotten to tell the doctor. Finally, Makary suggests doing away with the “gag” system, in which patients sign releases not to publicly badmouth their physicians. He feels that an open discussion, even about medical mistakes, increases accurate reporting, and can even serve to increase public trust in the American community, as doctors would be seen as having less to hide.

Makary makes some very interesting points, and the entire article is certainly worth a read. It can be found here on the Wall Street Journal website.

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