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The airline industry protocol might help reduce medical errors

Medical errors can occur at almost every step of a procedure, visit, or admission. It is crucial that the medical industry take steps to reduce the number of errors that occur because fewer errors mean fewer patients that suffer harm at the hands of the doctors who should be helping them.

One medical center has turned to protocol used in the airline industry to try to reduce the number of errors that occur at the facility. The program was dubbed LifeWings and seeks to improve communication from all members of the patient care team.

LifeWings uses timeouts and equality to help stop patient errors in their tracks. Timeouts occur before a procedure so that the entire team can ensure they are the same page about what needs to happen.

During a surgery, the surgeon is often thought of as the person with all the control. The fact is that everyone who is in the operating suite can be cognizant for errors that might occur. LifeWings enables team members to speak up freely about medical errors they see. Surgical techs or patient care techs have just as much of a right to point out something that is amiss as the surgeon.

Another goal of LifeWings is to provide all patients with the same standard of care. This is crucial in all aspects of care, even when patients are transported. LifeWings established a way for patient transfer techs to ensure they know what they need to know about each patient they move. Seven questions printed on a business card remind the tech to ask about the important aspects of the patient's transport, such as if the patient is able to stand or walk.

Patients who suffer harm at the hands of medical professionals might be in for a long recovery. That can be costly and can take a lot of time out of your regular life. Seeking to recover damages might help to compensate you for the effects of the medical error.

Source: Maine Public, "Eastern Maine Medical Center Looks to Airline Industry to Prevent Errors," Patty Wight, Sep. 09, 2016

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