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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Studies shed light on never events and preventive care for HCWs

A couple of studies released this week may cause a little discomfort to healthcare and quality professionals.

A study published by Johns Hopkins researchers in the journal Surgery estimates that about 80,000 surgical “never events” occurred in the US between 1990 and 2010.They found 9,744 paid malpractice claims for retained objects and wrong-site, wrong-patient, and wrong-procedure operations. Researchers used that data from the National Practitioner Database to estimate about 4,044 surgical never-events take place every year. The study only included data from paid malpractice claims.

The researchers didn’t venture into the possible whys of the results. Many institutions, though, have been cracking down and implementing surgical checklists, holding “timeouts”, and other methods for making sure all objects are accounted for and the correct site is used. However, there’s still a long way to go. “We trail behind other high-risk industries that have used systematic approaches to successfully identify and reduce sentinel errors,” the researchers said. “Strategies used in other complex systems such as aviation may help provide a blueprint to examine both the individual and the institutional factors that contribute to these preventable and costly events.”

Also this week, Archives of Internal Medicine reported that healthcare workers are no more likely than the general population to receive annual wellness exams, and were just as likely to be overweight, smoke, drive without seatbelts, drink and drive, and other behaviors. Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston analyzed responses from the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System phone survey. Around 260,558 people were surveyed, with 21,380 identified as healthcare workers (HCWs). While HCWs were more likely to have exercised in the last 30 days or have a personal physician, there were no differences with the general population in regards to seeking preventive care And about two-thirds of HCWs and general survey participants reported being a little overweight.

"It emphasizes, for example, why the obesity epidemic is so hard to fix," study author Dr. Kenneth Mukamal told Reuters. "Even people who know better don't do better."