In any healthcare environment, professionals are supposed to acknowledge and report all medical errors. This policy is meant to identify systematic safety lapses and improve the service offered to patients in future. The main purpose of putting in place error reporting systems is for physicians and nurses to learn from their experiences. However, there are cases in which healthcare staff members do not report medical errors. They fail to share what they learn from their mistakes resulting in the same errors being repeated in different environments and jeopardizing patient safety. This essay looks at the reasons why medical professionals may fail to provide accurate data when reporting errors.
While some medical professionals may admit to making medical errors and put effort to report them, they may not follow the correct procedure. For instance, a physician may disclose a minor mistake to a patient but fail to report it to the medical facility. Doctors seem to have more experience discussing medical errors with patients than actually reporting them to the relevant authorities. It may be that they find it more meaningful or important to talk to patients about errors and hence do not see much value in sharing the same blunders with a reporting system. All in all, it is worth bearing in mind that informing patients about mistakes is directly related to real-time patient care. On the other hand, reporting errors to medical institutions is meant to improve the future care of patients. Thus, finding a way of accomplishing both types of error communication is important (Poorolajal, Rezaie & Aghighi, 2015).
Why most healthcare professionals claim their willingness to report medical mistakes, many just don't go ahead and do it. According to Hwang & Park (2017), there seems to be a gap between the desire to report mistakes in order to improve performance in future and actually reporting the errors. A possible explanation for this gap is that many professionals are not well-versed in the reporting process. Only a certain percentage of them know the kinds of errors to be reported or how to go about it. In addition, doctors and nurses are often cynical about the effect that reporting of mistakes will have on the quality of medical care. They may also think that sharing information about minor mistakes that cause insignificant harm to patients would not make any difference.
As much as medical errors can be as a result of negligence, they more often occur due to a failure to evaluate properly. Some of them are simply an issue to do with bad luck and not really the individual's fault. The healthcare professional may not have been in the right frame of mind that particular instance. Some physicians are reluctant to admit and report errors out of fear of legal action. All in all, the shame associated with admitting one's weakness or failure is the most common reason for not reporting a mistake. Its human nature to not concede to making a blunder. Confession can be quite difficult, particularly when explaining it to the patient harmed by the error. Healthcare professionals may fail to report medical errors because they are not always the best communicators. Explaining medical matters often involve defining some complex terms for laymen patients. A physician may have a hard time expounding on the possible outcomes or side effects of a certain medication. Consequently, if an error occurs, he or she will be reluctant to report it (Makary & Daniel, 2016).
Hwang, J. I., & Park, H. A. (2017). Nurses' systems thinking competency, medical error reporting, and the occurrence of adverse events: A cross-sectional study. Contemporary nurse, 1-11.
Makary, M. A., & Daniel, M. (2016). Medical error-the third leading cause of death in the US. BMJ: British Medical Journal (Online), 353.
Poorolajal, J., Rezaie, S., & Aghighi, N. (2015). Barriers to medical error reporting. International journal of preventive medicine, 6.
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