When NHS England Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, took on his new role in April 2014, he stated that the organisation was facing the biggest challenge in its history because of the squeeze on its budgets, and warned that the next few years would require a significant effort to maintain the highest levels of service and care, and balance the books.
“We’re moving from mostly one-size-fits-all treatment to genuinely personalised care. And we can increasingly nip health problems in the bud before they get worse. We stand poised at one of medicine’s great inflection points.”
Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive
As well as the physical and emotional damage errors in patient identity can cause, the financial implications of misdiagnosis, mistaken identity or mistreatment can be huge.
ADRs alone cost NHS up to £466m
A UK study found that of 18,820 patients aged over 16 years admitted to two hospitals over a six-month period, there were 1,225 admissions judged to be related to an adverse drug reaction.
Of these, the Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) was deemed to have led directly to the admission in 80% of cases. The average bed stay was eight days, accounting for 4% of bed capacity. From a financial perspective, the projected annual cost of admissions like these to the NHS was £466 million.
A scan in time saves nine
We’re all familiar with the proverb ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, but the reality is that this applies to all walks of life. Prevention is always better for all parties than resolution. That is why we are used to medical checks, dental check-ups, warm-ups and stretching before exercise, even car services! These all are prudent ways of reducing the risk of longer-term, larger impacts.
As briefly touched upon, the healthcare industry is no stranger to prevention as a strategy, yet according to the aforementioned study, “the majority (72%) of ADR-related admissions were judged as avoidable, including medication errors”. And this is just one area of healthcare where risk is present and mistakes are made. The impact of this is that 3% of bed capacity could be made available by avoiding ADR related errors. Imagine the difference a 3% increase in capacity could bring; 3% more beds available, 3% more time to care for other patients, 3% less patient care costs.
By their nature, hospitals are more exposed to risk, in various forms, than other working environments. Time is always an issue, patient health and needs will fluctuate, and priorities will change at short notice. All of these can increase the chances of errors.
By minimising the risks, managers can reduce the financial burden, and ensure patient safety and more cost-effective ways of working. Which is why mobile printing is increasingly used and trusted in hospitals and healthcare facilities worldwide.
Our short guide to the ‘Five Ways to be Responsible with Patient Identification’ highlights key issues to consider when assessing current levels of patient care and patient safety processes.
About the author: Franck Riout is the EMEA Vertical Marketing Manager for the Healthcare industry at Zebra, responsible for end-user and channel engagement. His role is to understand and develop solutions that meet the needs of the Healthcare Market.