Tag Archives: errors

Annual list provides opportunities for stories on hazards in health care

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

The ECRI Institute every so often comes out with top 10 lists, and on Monday it issued its latest, focusing on devices that cause harm.

Its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards is produced annually.

Here is a verbatim list: Continue reading

Where have all the patient safety activists gone? … Answer: They’re still around, just a bit quieter

Cheryl Clark

About Cheryl Clark

Cheryl Clark (@CherClarHealth) is AHCJ's core topic leader for patient safety, a MedPage Today contributor and inewsource.org investigative journalist. For most of 27 years, she covered medicine and science for the San Diego Union-Tribune. After taking a buyout in 2008, she became senior quality editor for HealthLeaders Media.

Today, Sept. 17, is the first World Patient Safety Day, declared by the World Health Organization to draw attention to ever-present need – still – to reduce avoidable patient harm in health care settings.

And November marks the 20th anniversary of “To Err is Human,” the National Academy of Medicine’s 1999 report that estimated as many as 98,000 people die a year in United States hospitals. That widely publicized report called for a national agenda to improve patient care processes to make it easier for honest providers to safely treat patients and harder for them to cause harm. Continue reading

Why we should use caution when reporting on AI in medicine

Rebecca Vesely

About Rebecca Vesely

Rebecca Vesely is AHCJ's topic leader on health information technology and a freelance writer. She has written about health, science and medicine for AFP, the Bay Area News Group, Modern Healthcare, Wired, Scientific American online and many other news outlets.

Photo: Roger Mommaerts via Flickr

Hospitals and health systems are jumping into artificial intelligence (AI) in an effort to help physicians better analyze images and other clinical data. But reporters should be careful about overstating the value that these new tools can bring to clinical decision-making.

Radiology is the medical specialty probably most associated with AI today because of the tantalizing possibility that computers could help radiologists read images more quickly, enabling earlier diagnoses and treatment.

Continue reading

Journalists learn about efforts to improve diagnostic process

Carla K. Johnson

About Carla K. Johnson

Carla K. Johnson (@CarlaKJohnson) is a medical writer at The Associated Press and has covered health and medicine since 2001. A former member of AHCJ's board of directors, she leads the Chicago AHCJ chapter.

Photo: Carla K. Johnson(from left) Paul Epner of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, Dr. Karen Cosby of Rush University Medical School, and Dr. David Liebovitz of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. spoke to Chicago's AHCJ chapter.

Photo: Carla K. Johnson(from left) Paul Epner of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine, Dr. Karen Cosby of Rush University Medical School, and Dr. David Liebovitz of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. spoke to Chicago’s AHCJ chapter.

If you’ve read Dr. Lisa Sanders’ “Diagnosis” column in The New York Times Magazine, you know the process of identifying a patient’s problem can be fraught with opportunities for error. You also know diagnosis is rich territory for dramatic storytelling.

For health care journalists, it’s a great time to write about the topic. Errors in diagnosis are receiving new attention because of the recently released Institute of Medicine report “Improving Diagnosis in Health Care.” It’s part of the landmark “Quality Chasm Series” that produced the “To Err is Human” report in 2000 and the “Crossing the Quality Chasm” report in 2001. Continue reading

Exploring ‘preventable harm’ and making it accessible to readers

Joanne Kenen

About Joanne Kenen

Joanne Kenen, (@JoanneKenen) the health editor at Politico, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on health reform resources and tip sheets at joanne@healthjournalism.org. Follow her on Facebook.

Sarah Kliff

Sarah Kliff

Vox’s Sarah Kliff, who has an AHCJ Reporting Fellowship on Health Care Performance, is writing a series about fatal, preventable medical errors.

Not the inevitable tragic things that can happen to a patient – but the ones that we know how to avoid, the lives that should not be at risk.  Kliff spent several months on one story – actually a story and accompanying video and graphics – that combined insights about how hospitals think central line infections and a gripping narrative about the death of a 3-year-old girl.  You can find the story here.

Kliff wrote a “How I did It” essay for AHCJ that addresses a lot of the nuts and bolts of a vast project like this. She outlines how she reached out to patients/families, how she organized the voluminous – initially not searchable – medical records, how she found researchers who could elucidate things she did not fully understand in those records.

And she talks about the power of a good analogy to both organize a 5000-word narrative and give readers an accessible entry point to her work. Read about how she did it.

OIG: While adverse events are common, records of them aren’t

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

To draw attention to its ongoing monitoring of the incidence of adverse events in US hospitals and the accurate reporting thereof, the HHS Office of Inspector General is highlighting a roundup of reports on the subject.

If you get a chance to read it, you’ll probably see why I decided to distill it to a bulleted list of somewhat remarkable numbers.

Here goes:

  • In a one-month period, 27 percent of Medicare recipients experienced “care-related harm.”
  • In that month, these events cost Medicare an estimated $324 million.
  • Half of them were adverse events, half were “temporary” events such as allergic reactions.
  • 44 percent of the adverse events were deemed “preventable.”
  • “Hospital staff did not report 86 percent of events to incident reporting systems.”
  • That is partly because only 12 percent of incidents of care-related harm met requirements for being reported in the state in which they occurred.
  • “Many of the events not reported as required involved serious harm, including six patient deaths.”

For those looking to dig deeper and better understand the adverse events and how they’re reported, the OIG refers to a number of relevant reports. Journalists will be particularly interested in reports explaining how reporting requirements have failed, as it helps explain the limitations of currently available data sets.