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Are Hospital Surveillance Systems the New Frontier in Patient Safety

As Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers, we closely follow advancements in patient safety. With the healthcare debate focusing strongly on medical malpractice lawsuits, hospitals are seeing a great need to cut down on the errors and medical infections that occur in their facilities. A new report by the American Medical Association shows that surveillance systems could be the next big thing in patient safety, helping enforce safety rules and preventing the incidence of preventable errors and infections.

Surveillance of surgeons was in the media spotlight last month, when a Rhode Island hospital was ordered to have video and audio recording devices installed in the operating rooms. The state’s health department ordered the Rhode Island Hospital to install the cameras, after a series of 5 surgical errors occurred at the facility in just two years. These errors were wrong site surgeries, which are some of the most preventable medical errors.

While surgeons at Rhode Island Hospital will now have video cameras recording their surgical moves, doctors in Maryland hospitals could soon have “secret shoppers” hired by the hospital observing their hand hygiene practices. Low hand hygiene compliance rates have been a source of worry to Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers. Poor hand washing practices contribute to thousands of hospital-acquired infections every year. It’s these infection rates that Maryland hospitals are looking to cut with the program that funds hospitals to train people to observe whether doctors, nurses and other staff wash their hands when they come out of a patient’s room. These “secret shoppers” will be trained to blend into the environment, so they don’t stand out and alert doctors they are being watched.

Not every one is excited about the use of such surveillance. Some warn that this constant surveillance of doctors and healthcare professionals, could make staff feel victimized. However, we believe these systems could help increase compliance rates and decrease errors, and hope more hospitals in Georgia take up video monitoring to ensure compliance. As long as there continue to be wrong site surgeries in this country, we will continue to push for stronger surveillance of healthcare staff. Hospitals that want to enhance their patient safety record will only benefit from having surveillance systems that enhance compliance rates.

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