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Failure to Monitor Can Create Serious Medical Complications

What Systems Should Hospital Staff Follow to Monitor Medical Conditions?

Monitoring a medical condition in a patient requires following set medical standards and guidelines that have been established to ensure that treatment is working and that a patient is recovering.

Medical schools at universities and hospitals that oversee surgery and treatment devise policies and protocols to prevent medical conditions from worsening or from occurring in the first place.

Study Reveals Failure to Monitor Infection and Ventilator Use

Columbia University conducted research that was published in the American Journal of Infection Control. The study reviewed infection control efforts at U.S. hospitals and was the most comprehensive study done in 30 years.

Infection control efforts are a specific type of patient monitoring. The study found that even intensive care units were lax in complying with policies. This was particularly shocking since ICUs are more prone to monitoring the devices they use than other areas of hospitals. Use of central lines, urinary catheters and ventilators is common in ICUs.

Study Findings

Best practices for preventing infections includes using checklists that help medical staff prevent bloodstream infections and avoid pneumonia in ventilator patients.

Note: Improperly inserted, utilized and maintained catheters can transmit deadly infections to the bloodstream.
Note: One straightforward and easily monitored item on a ventilator checklist is keeping patients elevated in bed, with the head higher than the feet. This one simple method can help prevent pneumonia.

The study found:

  • Checklists were followed about 50% of the time.
  • If hospitals would use, electronic monitoring systems and staff who are certified in infection control, they would improve policy compliance.

Statistical Facts

  • Health care-related infections kill an estimated 100,000 Americans per year
  • Such costs result in an estimated $33 billion in excess medical expenses
  • Only one third of ICUs have an electronic surveillance system to track compliance with infection-prevention policies at the clinician level
  • More than 33% of hospitals failed to employ a full-time clinician certified in infection prevention to supervise compliance
  • More than 90% of ICUs had checklists for sterile insertion but policies were followed about 50% of the time.
  • ICU's followed their checklists 50% of the time when using ventilators

If you suspect that a failure to monitor a patient’s medical condition resulted in serious harm or death, consult with an experienced attorney. At Sackstein Sackstein & Lee, LLP https://sacksteinlaw.com, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss concerns about medical malpractice.


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