Friday, March 28, 2008

A celebrity case for quality

In 2007, the newborn twins of actor Dennis Quaid were given potentially lethal overdoses of Heparin, in which a flush of 10 units/ml were mistakenly replaced with 10,000 units/ml an then administered by a nurse to the twins. As a result, he created the Quaid Foundation to help expose this tragic issue which has caused the preventable deaths of thousands of people. The mission of the Quaid Foundation is to advocate for patients and highlight medical (human) error which is responsible for almost 100,000 preventable deaths per year. This number is significantly more than those who die of motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer and AIDS, according to the Institute of Medicine. Additionally, the mission statement notes that the errors are the result of a flawed system, not the individual healthcare providers functioning within it. He spoke recently at the annual Association of Healthcare Journalists Conference in Washington D.C. A recent post on the Health Care Blog further discusses his speech and outstanding advocacy efforts since the incident.

This is definitely the push that the healthcare industry needs to bring this vital issue to the policy table and into the minds of consumers. All nurses are acutely aware of this issue and have witnessed the impact of a negative work environment on our patients. From a nursing perspective, errors occur as a result of long stressful hours and short staffing. Considering the current political healthcare priorities in the up and coming election, there is definitely a window of opportunity to make changes and to create legislation that will make our healthcare system run as effectively as we know it can be. Perhaps I am naive, but I have hope.


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shrimplate said...

The real trick is to reduce medication errors while simultaneously working nurses to death.