A report by the Institute of Medicine estimated that up to 100,000 Americans are killed each year by preventable mishaps such as wrong-side surgery, medication errors and hospital-acquired infections—a larger number than die from breast cancer or AIDS.
Flying Blind, The Economist, April 16th 2009
The story continues:
Sometimes such errors can be prevented without fancy technology. It helps to write “not this leg” on a patient’s left leg before surgery on his right leg. When Kaiser Permanente’s innovation laboratory looked into errors in medication dosage, it found that a lot of them were due to interruptions. Now nurses preparing complex medications wear “do not disturb” sashes, which has caused errors to drop noticeably. A striking study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that surgical errors and complications fall by one-third if hospitals use a simple safety checklist before, during and after surgery.