Stay Out of the Hospital

Really, I mean that. Tom says that being around so many nurses has taught him one thing (well, two if you count never turn your back on a proctologist). Hospitals are great places to visit loved ones when you’re well, but they’re a horrible place to be when you’re sick. Studies have shown the longer you’re in a hospital recovering, the more likely you are to develop an infection, iatrogenic injury or even die.

Tom usually blogs about technology, but this one was too good for me to pass up. ECRI has come up with a list of the Top 10 Health Technology Hazards! That just sounded like fun. For your legal nurse consulting business, this is an eye-opening list of just what can (and will probably) go wrong with healthcare technology. ECRI even ran the list in order of importance. Here we go:

  1. Alarm Hazards. You know you ignore them or worse – turn them off.
  2. Needlesticks and other Sharps Injuries. This is really low-tech. We’ve been maliciously sticking unsuspecting patients with needles for years.
  3. Air Embolism from Contrast Media Injectors. This I read AFTER my MRI?
  4. Retained Devices and Unretrieved Fragments. Suddenly patients find themselves setting off the metal detectors at the airport or they are billed for a missing forceps.
  5. Surgical Fires. Another reason why CRNAs shouldn’t smoke at work.
  6. Anesthesia Hazards Due to Inadequate Pre-Use Inspection. More likely due to pre-use use by the CRNA and/or the anesthesiologist.
  7. Misleading Displays. Especially the one showing brain activity.
  8. CT Radiation Dose. Everyone else leaves the room during the x-ray, why shouldn’t the patient?
  9. MR Imaging Burns. You stick a damaged headset and goggles on the patient, then ram him into the magnetic bore and wonder why he comes out with his hair on fire?
  10. Fiber-Optic Light-Source Burns. Another way to set a patient on fire is by resting a hot “cold light source” on him during surgery.

The ECRI report also lists five of last year’s hazards that didn’t cause enough harm to make this year’s Top 10. They are still described as “significant” concerns. ECRI has taken the time to identify problems that any Certified Legal Nurse Consultant realizes are avoidable. I’d get a copy of this list and keep it handy when screening your medical malpractice cases. For a limited time, you can use the link above to visit ECRI and download a free copy of the report.

It’s like Tom always tells me “Technology is fun – in the right hands.”

Success Is Inside!

P.S. Have you seen any med-mal or products liability cases in your legal nurse consulting business related to these topics? What, in your opinion, is the biggest health technology hazard? Comment here.

12 thoughts on “Stay Out of the Hospital

  1. I haven’t seen any of these hazards in my business… but I wanted to say that I am going to use this list in my upcoming newsletter. Info like this is great! You can fit it in a box and attorneys can read it quickly. It makes us sound like the experts we are! Thanks, Vickie.

  2. Time – Is there enough time to attend to all these “medical gadgets” and then actually give the patient some human time? Do the “prescribers” of all the therapies etc. actually add up the number of medical gadgets they want applied, then calculate the time required to attend to them and then add that to the time required to attend to the human activities…how many hours are there in a day these days?
    So the volume of technological gadgets could be the problem in some cases!

  3. Vickie,
    Thanks for another golden nugget. I’ve already downloaded the entire article and printed it for my files. It will come in handy in the near future, I’m sure.

    Thanks for mentioning about possibly using the info in your newsletter. I have wanted to add a newsletter to my marketing packets, but I just haven’t come up with any good ideas yet to include in a newsletter. I have seen one CLNC® consultant’s newsletter (which I think was done very well), but I would love to hear any other ideas people have out there that would be appropriate for a newsletter.

    P.S. After reading about all the Health Technology Hazards….yes I am going to be working double duty on getting myself in shape and to stay healthy and OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!!!!

  4. I love the list, but it does make me sweat a little, since I know for a fact that these things are happening EVERY day. I have been there seen that regarding some of the issues involving surgical services. Surgical fires can be devastating. All accrediation bodies are really looking at Surgical Services and Sterilization Processes in hospitals since they seem to affect patient outcomes. I agree with everyone, stay out of the hospital if at all possible, any way we know we make the worst patients.

  5. This is a wonderful site to help people stay current in product liability cases: http://productliability.law360.com.
    If you look at the left side, you will see “decisions and settlements” and I love to read those when I have time. I guess what I have seen the most of are the Retained Devices and Unretrieved Fragments. Perhaps because physicians have been leaving behind clamps and sponges, hardware for years. Thanks for the list, this is wonderful! Tools to go exploring for that next case! Great!

  6. Dear Vickie, Your blogs couldn’t be more timely. I worked hard to put a newsletter together and introduced it in a recent marketing campaign. It was great to hand the attorneys something valuable besides a sales pitch. My problem was coming up with ideas for the next newsletter. Your blogs answered that problem for me.

    The newsletter is part of the permission marketing strategies that I will focus on this year. I have done enough cold office visits to attorneys to see the difference when you can hand them something that will educate them or enlighten them. Just the fact that I put something together in a newsletter format seemed to impress them. They were more interested and asked more questions. One attorney had me make an appointment to talk further, another attorney has a case in which I will pick up the records next week. My writer’s group and the VMI were invaluable in the classy and glossy end product.

    My goal is to double my income this year. The next permission marketing strategy I am going to implement is exhibiting. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  7. Vickie asks the question about recent technology-induced injuries we may have seen lately….well, I want to comment on a far less than sophisticated injury that occurred because a bedside nurse failed to keep track of time! It happened just this week.

    The technology culprit? An electric heating pad! And a third degree burn 13 cm in width on the posterior thigh of a woman who entered the hospital unresponsive. She was hospitalized four days and left with this new wound that requires debridement and weeks of healing.

    How has bedside care so deteriorated of late? I see nurses so frazzled that they do not know the diagnoses of their 5-7 patients, nor are they knowledgeable about their meds, social histories or homecare needs at discharge. Technology has added to their workday a level of detail that many cannot assimilate and still provide basic care.

    Claire, thanks for the website on product liability! I think Tech Hazards would make a great start for a newsletter. I haven’t created one yet because I wasn’t feeling terribly “creative” but this is an inspiration. And also, what about the “Do Not Use” list of abbreviations that all hospitals print but medical records still contain them and their potential for harm?

    I am very much looking forward to San Antonio! Again, thanks Vickie for the guidance you give us all.

  8. Vickie, Great article about staying out of the hospital. If you want to consider elevators technology…watch out for faulty elevators in hospitals as well. You might get caught in one like a doctor did a couple years ago in Texas. I think of that incident when I’m in hospitals.

  9. The “Misleading Displays” brought to mind the patient’s family who read the “Tobacco Free Campus” sign on my facility. They politely asked where they could obtain the FREE CIGARETTES(!).

  10. I am currently 5 days post-op and consider myself lucky to have experienced the great care I received. However,anytime I received information on my procedure,anesthesia,etc- the provider would recite a long list of every bad outcome that could happen. I actually started laughing at the anesthesiologist and added a few to the list “death,fire,dismemberment,plague”.

    I know this is part of the “CYA” process that is necessary these days and not actually funny ha-ha. But now,everyone sounds like a pharmaceutical commercial listing all the dreadful side effects of the medication that’s supposed to make you feel better.

    Anyway, since I’m the one who’s being cut open, I reserve the right to laugh at anything I want to! 😉

  11. These are always fun. Two years ago there were 12 cases of air embolism caused by NIBP (non-invasive blood pressure) devices hooked to PICC lines in an 18 month period (10 by basic EMTs, 2 by transportation techs). If your hospital doesn’t use HP connectors (miniature air compressor connectors), it should.

    A CT with contrast of the abdomen and pelvis (R/O appendicitis) provides 250 times the radiation of a chest XR, or the equivalence of living 100 feet from a nuclear reactor for five years!

    MRI burns are common with tattoos, black and blue ink containing iron. The images are also so distorted, they may be useless.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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