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The Most Common Hospital Accidents and How To Avoid Them
Patient Safety

The Most Common Hospital Accidents and How To Avoid Them

When working in healthcare, it is important to understand what types of accidents might your patients encounter. How can you work to dramatically reduce accidents and foster a greater culture of safety? Here, we'll examine some of the most common hospital accidents, how you can avoid them, and how ECRI can support you in your journey to better healthcare.

What are common hospital accidents today's patients face?

Some of the most common accidents include:

  • Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs): Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), are extremely common in hospital settings. They're often transferred by sick individuals (e.g., hospital staff, other patients, visitors) when patients or staff touch infected surfaces, or by devices that are infected and used for patient treatment. Some of the most common HAIs that patients may contract include catheter-associated urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, and Clostridioides difficile.
  • Falls (Especially for Older Populations): If you're an organization that operates multiple assisted living facilities or similar facilities focused primarily on senior care, you may already know how prominent falls are in this community. Falling can have a significant impact on the health and well-being of older adults; risks presented by falls include injury, reduced mobility, and depression as a result of reduced mobility or inability to engage in activities.
  • Medication Errors: All medication comes with side effects, and the right medications aren't always prescribed. Sometimes medication errors only present minor side effects that are quickly remedied by taking the patient off the medication and putting them on what's required to treat the underlying health problem. However, other medication errors can result in severe injuries or side effects that extend treatment and worsen the patient's condition.
  • Unsafe Procedures: Procedures can potentially be conducted incorrectly, which may have a serious impact on patient health and well-being. Some of the most common procedures or treatments that are conducted incorrectly include unsafe surgical procedures and unsafe injections (in which bloodborne pathogens infect patients or even healthcare practitioners).
  • Healthcare Professional Errors: Healthcare professionals are, first and foremost, human beings. Accidents that happen due to human error can negatively impact patient care. Some accidents that might arise from improper care by personnel include bumping into equipment, dropping patients, and forgetting specific treatment protocol that is essential to both their health and the health of their patients. Professional errors might apply to accidents listed above.

While potential for accidents in healthcare facilities exists, there are ways to address and prevent them.

 How to avoid the most common hospital accidents

Actions that can help reduce the number of accidents that occur in your organization include:

  • Developing stringent hygiene (personal and environmental) protocol designed to protect both patients and staff from potential infection. To achieve this, develop better hand washing standards, provide staff with the right personal protective equipment (PPE), and ensure that proper sanitizating and disinfecting of the hospital environment and equipment is consistent. 
  • Creating a safer environment for patients to navigate. This is especially important for older adults who find themselves falling frequently in their facilities. Do you offer support to help your senior population move around with ease? Are there supportive elements in the facility designed to prevent falls and make mobility easier? There are plenty of ways to target and prevent these types of accidents.
  • Working with hospital accident reconstruction professionals and  In some cases, we may not know exactly why accidents happen or how we can prevent them in the future. This is where a professional comes in. With the support of someone trained in determining the causes of healthcare-related accidents, you can better understand why accidents take place, update protocols to avoid these accidents in the future, and consistently receive the support needed to navigate workplace challenges and accidents.

Begin your journey to better healthcare with ECRI

ECRI is dedicated to helping you identify and reduce accidents in your healthcare facilities. With a wide range of services including accident and forensic investigation services, medication safety, ambulatory risk management, and educational courses on how to conduct an accident investigation, we offer you a total systems approach to safety and risk management that you need to improve the level of care provided in your healthcare facilities. More importantly, we have a large education database to help healthcare professionals and clinicians in your organization prepare as your facilities change.

Learn more about why healthcare organizations nationwide rely on our expert investigators to determine the cause of healthcare-related incidents, deliver remedies, and provide legal support: