As we consider the recent 2017 County Health Ranking that lists Robeson as the most unhealthy county in the state, and as the nation gears up for the US Senate to pick up the ACA Repeal debate, matters of health are increasingly taking center stage and becoming a part of many our of daily conversations together. And while discussions about affordable health insurance options, tobacco cessation, healthy eating, physical activity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, behavioral health, and the opioid epidemic are increasingly promoted, the elephant in the room that many often avoid is the need for healthcare organizations and communities to work together to facilitate constructive and objective dialogue about medical errors.
According to an article released last year by the Washington Post:
Nightmare stories of nurses giving potent drugs meant for one patient to another and surgeons removing the wrong body parts have dominated recent headlines about medical care. Lest you assume those cases are the exceptions, a new study by patient-safety researchers provides some context.”
Their analysis, published in the BMJ on Tuesday, shows that “medical errors” in hospitals and other health-care facilities are incredibly common and may now be the third-leading cause of death in the United States — claiming 251,000 lives every year, more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s.”
Makary said he and co-author Michael Daniel, also from Johns Hopkins, conducted the analysis to shed more light on a problem that many hospitals and health-care facilities try to avoid talking about.”
Although all providers extol patient safety and highlight the various safety committees and protocols they have in place, few provide the public with specifics on actual cases of harm due to mistakes. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require reporting of errors in the data it collects about deaths through billing codes, making it hard to see what’s going on at the national level.”
Building Trust & Identifying Solutions through
Open, Honest, & Objective Communication
“Not everything that is faced can be changed,
but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
Public health advocacy that promotes behavioral and cultural change in the community but fails to promote behavioral and cultural change within the healthcare infrastructure – or vice versa – is not genuine health advocacy or effective health promotion. And since both the life of our nation’s healthcare systems and communities are interdependent, healthcare organizations and communities must mutually demonstrate the courage to proactively engage in difficult conversations and opportunities to listen to one another objectively. This is vital because the ongoing maintenance of a cultural norm that nurtures a philosophy that assumes that the need to openly address poor decision making in the community is valid — but the need to openly address poor decision making within healthcare systems is invalid [ or is at most a public perception or PR problem ] — is inhumane and unsustainable. Of course all of us are human, and as such none of us are perfect. So in order for us to grow together, everyone [ doctors, nurses, patients, families, care-givers, healthcare providers, public policy makers, and the community ] must take an honest look in the mirror, make adjustments, and engage in constructive and relevant dialogue that is focused on improving health and building trust collectively.
“We often ask patients: What’s the matter with you, when we should really be asking what matters to you?” – Dr. Verma Yiu
“If you advocate for yourself or loved one when in the hospital it will make a big difference” – Dr. Campbell
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Photo by: CDC Image Library / Amanda Mills
Relevant Links & Video:
Early death after discharge from emergency departments: analysis of national US insurance claims data
Sage Journals | The Impact of Mental Illness Stigma on Seeking and Participating in Mental Health Care
“How might provider stigma impact the provision of care? Two bodies of research suggest that provider stereotypes undermine good practice.”
APA.org | American Psychological Association | Left Out
“Two recent studies suggest that mental health professionals are less likely to take on African-American and working-class clients.”