There are growing concerns in the public and political arenas regarding patient safety. Among these concerns are medical errors. Medical errors are preventable occurrences that threaten every patient’s safety in all medical facilities including nursing home care and home health care. is website dedicated to researching hospital safety and keeping the public informed of its findings.

It is operated by Leapfrog, an independent organization, that advocates for patient safety. Their website indicates that “as many as 440,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors (The Leapfrog Group, 2013).” That is an astounding number of people being senselessly buried each year due to unnecessary and avoidable circumstances.
This week’s video also addresses medical errors indicating that health care should be addressed in a multidisciplinary, collaborative fashion. Now more than ever organizations should expect more from their health care employees because Medicare (and other government insurance policies) will not pay for medical errors and avoidable circumstances (Laureate Education, 2009). To address medical errors and financial concerns, health care organizations are going to shift their focus onto prevention and control of medical errors and education of their health care employees.
In response the growing concern of medical errors, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) introduced the 5 Million Lives campaign in December of 2006 and it continued until December of 2008. “IHI and its partners in the Campaign encouraged hospitals and other health care providers to take the following steps to reduce harm and deaths:
• Prevent Pressure Ulcers by reliably using science-based guidelines for prevention of this serious and common complication
• Reduce Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection through basic changes in infection control processes throughout the hospital
• Prevent Harm from High-Alert Medications starting with a focus on anticoagulants, sedatives, narcotics, and insulin
• Reduce Surgical Complications by reliably implementing the changes in care recommended by the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP)
• Deliver Reliable, Evidence-Based Care for Congestive Heart Failure to reduce readmission
• Get Boards on Board by defining and spreading new and leveraged processes for hospitals Boards of Directors, so that they can become far more effective in accelerating the improvement of care (Institute for Healthcare Improvement, N.D.)”
This campaign and other public initiatives are very important to medical communities in an effort to gain the public’s trust and seek ways to make improvements.
Nursing Responsibilities to Medical Errors and Patient Safety
Nurses can play a significant role in reducing medical errors in several ways. First and most importantly, nurses should always be advocates for their patients. If the patient or the nurse has a concern, it should always be addressed as a group effort. Other nurses, clinical specialists, and primary care providers should be made aware of concerns and addressed in “two heads are better than one” atmosphere. Second, nurses should be aware of and use the best evidence-based practices for patient care. New techniques to maintain sterility, new medication administration practices, and proper use of patient safety equipment are a few that come to mind. Third, nurses need to be involved in the development and implementation of protocols and practice standards (Laureate Education, 2009). Involvement in these types of activities builds knowledge and understanding in a collaborative environment.