A Massachusetts coalition aims to map out the minefield of medical-error dangers in healthcare, the first step in a campaign to sweep them from the field.
The statewide initiative, led by the Massachusetts Hospital Association, will focus on identifying and sharing best practices in areas such as ordering and administering medication, preventing suicides in high-risk situations and avoiding surgical mistakes.
Those issues usually are broached in a calamitous atmosphere in which healthcare professionals run from blame rather than coolly considering the changes that might prevent a recurrence.
Because of that emphasis on blame, no forum had sprung up to discuss improving practices and preventing mistakes, said MHA spokesman Andrew Dreyfus. But that didn't mean the interest wasn't there.
The MHA learned of efforts in hospital organizations to examine the causes of medical errors and develop prevention strategies. "What's missing is a way to get that information out so people can learn from each other," said Leslie Kirle, the MHA's director of medical staff relations.
The Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors is recruiting a broad range of healthcare groups to help fill that information gap. Members include the major healthcare trade groups for institutions, physicians, nurses and state regulators, along with such national oversight interests as HCFA and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.
The coalition's first fruits are expected in late fall with the results of a survey now being analyzed on best practices in the safe administration of medications at Massachusetts hospitals. The study builds on an MHA project developed in conjunction with the state Board of Registration in Medicine and the Department of Public Health before the coalition officially formed.
Once finished, the hospital-oriented medication study could be adapted for other settings, such as nursing homes and psychiatric facilities, as part of the coalition's overall education and dissemination mission, Kirle said.