The Senator sent surveys in February to more than 280 hospitals in her state, to learn what they were doing to prevent nine specific safety concerns. All 149 California hospitals that responded to the survey had introduced common interventions to address most of the nine errors listed: adverse drug events; catheter-associated urinary tract infections; central line-associated bloodstream infections; injuries from falls and immobility; obstetrical adverse events; pressure ulcers; surgical-site infections; blood clots; and ventilator-associated pneumonia.
Some hospitals were highlighted for their “unique approaches,” according to the report. For example, nurses at Kaiser Permanente are required to wear colored sashes or vests when dispensing medications. The clothing alerts other staff not to interrupt them, in order to prevent distractions that could lead to a medication error.
University of California Los Angeles Medical Center has started using ultraviolet-light technology to disinfect hospital rooms, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that the application of UV radiation in the healthcare environment is limited.
And Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles reported achieving a zero central-line infection rate during the past 6 months after it brought in infection-control specialists who checked patients' central lines multiple times a week.
The report also offered recommendations for federal programs to reduce medical errors, including the creation of a standard format for reporting medical errors, and a review of whistle-blower protections to ensure healthcare providers can report errors without retribution.
“We cannot turn away from this challenge,” Boxer said. She plans to send the report to all hospitals who received the original survey. “This is not the time to sit back and do nothing. Lives are at stake,” she said.
Follow Sabriya Rice on Twitter: @MHSRice