Medical errors are an unfortunate and unavoidable reality of healthcare. These errors, also known as adverse events, can lead to serious harm, disability, or even death. However, not all medical errors are equal. Some errors are considered “actionable,” meaning they could have been prevented if appropriate action had been taken. In the UK, actionable medical errors are a significant concern, with approximately 5-10% of hospital admissions resulting in an adverse event.
- Defining Correctable medical mistakes
- Types of Correctable medical mistakes
- Causes of Actionable Medical Errors
- Preventing Correctable medical mistakes
- Reporting and Learning from Correctable medical mistakes
Defining Actionable Medical Errors:
An actionable medical error is a mistake or failure in the healthcare system that could have been prevented if appropriate action had been taken. These mistakes can occur at any point in the healthcare process, from diagnosis and treatment to communication and discharge planning. Actionable medical errors can have serious consequences for patients, including physical harm, emotional distress, and financial burdens. Check my blog
Types of Actionable Medical Errors:
There are several types of corecctable medical errors that can occur in the UK healthcare system, including medication errors, surgical errors, diagnostic errors, communication errors, and falls. Prescription errors are the most common type of actionable medical error, with around 237 million medication errors occurring every year in the NHS alone. Surgical mistakes, such as wrong-site surgery or leaving surgical instruments inside a patient, are also a significant concern, as they can result in serious harm or even death.
Diagnostic errors occur when a healthcare provider fails to identify or properly diagnose a medical condition. These errors can lead to delayed or inappropriate treatment, which can have serious consequences for patients. Communication errors can occur between healthcare providers, patients, and their families and can result in misunderstandings, delays in care, or inappropriate treatment.
Finally, falls are a significant concern, particularly for older patients. Falls can occur in hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare settings and can result in severe damage, such as fractures, head injuries, or even death.
Causes of Actionable Medical Errors:
Correctable medical mistakes
Actionable medical errors can occur for a variety of reasons, including system failures, human error, communication breakdowns, and lack of training or supervision. System failures occur when there are flaws or gaps in the healthcare system, such as inadequate staffing, lack of resources, or outdated technology. Human error can occur when healthcare providers make mistakes, such as misreading a chart or administering the wrong medication.
Transmission breakdowns can occur when there is a lack of communication between healthcare providers, patients, and their families. This can lead to misunderstandings, delays in care, or inappropriate treatment. Lack of training or supervision can also contribute to actionable medical errors, particularly among junior staff or those new to the healthcare system.
Preventing Actionable Medical Errors:
Preventing actionable medical errors requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of these errors. Some key strategies for preventing Correctable medical mistakes in the UK include:
- Implementing systems and processes to reduce the risk of errors, such as electronic prescribing, barcoding, and double-checking procedures.
- Enhancing communication and collaboration between healthcare providers, patients, and their families, through measures such as patient-centred care, shared decision-making, and open and honest communication.
- Providing ongoing training and education to healthcare providers to confirm they have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide safe and effective care.
- Encouraging a culture of reporting and learning from errors to identify patterns and trends and make improvements to the healthcare system. Checkout more about No win no fee in Medical errors.
Reporting and Learning from Actionable Medical Errors:
Reporting and learning from actionable medical errors is an essential part of preventing these errors from occurring in the future. The UK has several reporting and learning systems in place, including the National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS), which collects information on patient safety incidents from healthcare providers across the country.
The NRLS uses this information to identify patterns and trends in patient safety incidents and develop strategies to prevent future errors. Healthcare providers are encouraged to report all patient safety incidents, regardless of whether harm was caused, to ensure that lessons can be learned and improvements can be made.
In addition to the NRLS, there are other reporting and learning systems in place, such as the (NCEPOD), which investigates the quality of care provided to patients who have died in the hospital.
Actionable medical errors are a significant concern in the UK healthcare system, with approximately 5-10% of hospital admissions resulting in an adverse event. These errors can have serious consequences for patients, including physical harm, emotional distress, and financial burdens. However, preventing these errors requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of these errors.
Implementing systems and processes to reduce the risk of errors, enhancing communication and collaboration between healthcare providers, patients, and their families, providing ongoing training and education to healthcare providers, and encouraging a culture of reporting and learning from errors are all essential strategies for preventing actionable medical errors. Reporting and learning from these errors are also crucial to identify patterns and trends and to make improvements to the healthcare system. By working together to prevent and learn from Correctable medical mistakes, we can ensure that patients in the UK receive safe and effective care. Visit for more here