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Date Submitted: 06/22/2011 11:35 PM

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Policy Topic: Medical Errors

Policy Topic: Medical Errors

A recent hot topic in healthcare policy over the past five years, medical errors in the U.S. healthcare industry has become an increasing issue. The article To Err is Human, released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), brought the issue to light by declaring between 44,000 and 98,000 deaths occur each year in hospitals as a result of preventable medical error. As policymakers move forward in debates on medical errors, they will likely consider the key issues and stakeholders affected by policies to be implemented (KaiserEDU, 2009).

Key Issues

Hospital errors rank among the top ten leading causes of death in the U.S., holding between the fifth to eighth spot on the list. Errors in hospitals take more lives each year than AIDS, breast cancer, and traffic accidents (KaiserEDU, 2009). In hopes of reducing the preventable deaths, policymakers will need to focus on several key issues.

One of the major issues in handling these preventable deaths is reporting standards. How will reporting be handled? How can standardized measures be put into place for reporting preventable deaths and near misses? Standardized reporting comes with a lot of debate as to how involved government agencies can and will be or at what level those agencies can enforce guidelines (KaiserEDU, 2009). When equipment is available that will reduce the risks associated with preventable death, do policymakers make it mandatory for hospitals to spend money on new equipment? Policymakers can enforce the purchase of new equipment, but then the debate follows as to how much time will be allotted for technological upgrading and implementation (KaiserEDU, 2009).

Many other issues will also arise as debate topics, such as nursing shortages and malpractice suits. Nursing shortages could be a factor in medical preventable deaths. In the case of medical professional shortages, policymakers will need to review the ability of the...