Patients who seem healthy are not the only people affected by misdiagnoses. Obviously ill patients can also be diagnosed with the wrong condition. Many diagnosis mistakes can occur in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). Patients in the ICU require close care and attention. When a mistake is made in the ICU it can be life threatening.
The staff members of the ICU are specially trained to understand and handle very serious situations. Patients most likely to be placed in ICUs are those who have just undergone surgery, suffered heart attacks, or been the victim of a car accident. These patients may require IVs, need assistance breathing, or require catheters.
Patients in the ICU are monitored to ensure that their body systems are functioning properly and that there are no adverse effects of their injury or illness. Additionally, their medications are monitored closely to ensure that he or she is reacting to the drugs well.
Unfortunately, it is often the case that the death rate in the ICU can be higher than other hospital units. This does not always mean that the medical staff on the unit have been negligent or are not qualified. These patients are critically ill and their rate of recovery is lower.
One research study found that of patients who have died in the ICU, as many was 28 percent died with a misdiagnosis. Additionally, of all ICU patients, about 8 percent had a major misdiagnosis that resulted in their death. These diagnosis problems occur more often than they should and patients face serious risks.
Other types of errors that occur in the ICU include the failure of medical professionals to follow protocol, lapse in communication, medication errors, and treatment errors. Additionally, the ICU has many complex medical devices and machines. Patients suffer when machines are defective or if a physician fails to use a device correctly.
In order to uphold the safety of patients, medical professionals should:
- Communicate clearly with team members.
- Work well with team members.
- The staff of the ICU should be well-trained, directed, managed, and have an understanding of the unit and how to provide patients with the best care.
- Ensure that staff members are well-rested and that stress and distraction are kept to a minimum.
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