Yardstick for quality not to be found in our natural fallibility

November 3, 2009

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AMEN TO Douglas Brown regarding the absurdity of lumping falls in a hospital in with preventable medical errors (“Hospitals wage war against patient falls,’’ Op-ed, Oct. 26). People fall. They fall when young and old, at home, at work and, yes, in hospitals. My own father fell at the assisted living facility where he resided, and broke his hip. No one in our family felt this was a “serious reportable event,’’ as he was difficult to control at times. We did not file a lawsuit. What we did do was thank the health care workers for taking excellent care of him both before his fall and after his surgery.

The fact that any person or organization at the private, state, or federal level would consider using falls in a hospital as a measuring stick for “quality’’ is ludicrous.

As noted in the same edition of the Globe, hospitals have tempered hiring of ancillary personnel as a result of financial constraints, and there is simply not enough staffing to prevent an event that is part of our fallible human nature.

I would echo one part of Brown’s op-ed. Failure to move patients out of bed, especially the elderly, regardless of the risks inherent in doing so, will often result in an unacceptably high incidence of complications and mortality.
Dr. Stephen W. Behrman, Westport

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