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Change the culture of hospitals and save a patient's life

Medicine is both art and science. The "art" part is made up of the experience and training of doctors and medical professional. Sometimes, the judgment and discretion is mistaken or in error and leads to patients suffering some form of medical negligence. It may be an infection or some minor setback that adds a few days on to their recovery. For other, it may be a devastating mistake that leaves them seriously injured or causes their death.

As recent studies repeat ominously, preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death for Americans. Given the billions that are spent every year on medical treatment, surgeries and pharmaceuticals, we should expect more and better from our healthcare system.

There is reason to hope among all of the worries, as real improvement and progress are possible. Changing the mindset of medical professionals can make a great difference in patient outcomes.

In one hospital, a great many patients suffering bloodstream infections were considered the norm and acceptable. At one hospital, they implemented a safety checklist and training protocol. The results have been remarkable, as bloodstream infections have been reduced to "essentially zero."

Not only do patients not have to suffer the pain and potential for more severe complications, but the hospital gains the benefit of saving on reduced stays and treatments for patients and less medical malpractice litigation, saving more than 1,500 lives and $100 million.

By changing the culture at the hospital and among the physicians, nurses and other staff, the process is improved, lives are saved and millions of dollars in unnecessary costs can be saved, allowing those resources to be devoted to helping other patients, not fixing malpractice errors.

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