I was struck yesterday by a report from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which found that almost 12,000 people “die needlessly” in NHS hospitals each year due to basic errors by medical staff.
There was one point in the report which really leapt out for me -
They [medical staff] were not assessing patients holistically early enough in their admission so they didn’t miss any underlying condition. And they were not checking side-effects….before prescribing drugs.
Learning from the events where things don’t work out as well as we’d hoped is a key way for all human beings to develop and improve. Whilst it’s terrible to read about people dying from basic errors in the health care system, there’s a real light of hope in the identification of the kinds of problems to be addressed.
If we could treat people holistically, seeing them as whole people, not as episodes of disease, then we’d have a better understanding of their problems and be better placed to address them. If we paused before prescribing, and consciously considered the potential side-effects and interactions (the harms) rather than prescribing by protocol drug X for condition Y, then maybe we’d reduce over all prescribing as well as prescribing errors.