Kingston, New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Critiques President Obama’s Ambitious Plan To Prevent Medical Errors

Laws, Medication Errors

President Obama’s administration announced a broad new plan to tackle medical errors. The Obama administration plans to spend $500 million to test models for reducing nine types of medical errors, including surgical site infections, pressure ulcers and complications from childbirth. Top on the list of goals is the prevention of hospital-acquired infections and a reduction in the rate of hospital readmissions.

In the April edition of a journal, Health Affairs, it was estimated that one in three patients admitted to a hospital experience what is known as an “adverse event”, such as being given the wrong medication, acquiring an infection or receiving the wrong surgical procedure. That’s not a misprint–one out of every three people suffer a mistake during a hospital stay.

President Obama’s ambitious plans are noble, but he is reinventing the wheel for no reason. The experiment to reduce medical errors was implemented during an 18 month study by Johns Hopkins University between 2005 and 2006. For 18 months between 2005 and 2006, more than 100 Michigan hospitals enrolled their intensive care units in the initiative known as the Michigan Keystone ICU Project. The project targeted a specific type of infection that ICU patients can get while in the hospital: catheter-related bloodstream infections, and involved having ICU personnel use a five-step safety checklist when inserting catheters into patients.

The simple five step checklist required ICU personnel to take the following steps when placing a central line catheter: (1) wash their hands; (2) wear a mask, hat, gown and gloves; (3) put sterile drapes over the patient; (4) clean a patient’s skin; and (5) remove the catheter as soon as it is no longer needed. The results were amaizing.

The five-step checklist virtually eliminated bloodstream infections in the hospitals’ intensive care units to zero. Of the 127 intensive care units participating in the project, 103 Michigan intensive care units reduced catheter-related bloodstream infections to zero and up to 66% sustaiend the zero rates during the 18-month study period. This led to the near elimination of catheter-related bloodstream infections.

Does the President need a $500 million study to reduce medical errors? Why re-invent the wheel? The work has already been done by Johns Hopkins University in the Michigan Keystone ICU Project. It’s real low-tech: make sure anyone who touches a patient washes their hands and follows the five-step checklist usedin the Michigan Keystone ICU Project.

But you might ask: isn’t it kind of awkward to ask a doctor or nurse to wash their hands? There is no question that it is very difficult to question physicians. Many doctors are not welcoming and don’t want you to question them. You might get the cold shoulder, but who cares? By politely asking the physicians and nurses to wash their hands, you could very well prevent a hospital acquired infection that could lead to your loved one’s death.

Forget about the feelings of the medical providers. You must be pro-active in making your your loved one gets the best medical care. If you don’t speak up, who will?

If you have any questions or want more information, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882 or you can request a FREE copy of my book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website, If you think this blog might interest someone you know, please share it with them.