Before anyone is placed in a medical facility, the steps taken to assure patient safety should be looked at. This is especially important in areas where hospitals do not have to face severe legal consequences even if safety regulations are not strictly adhered to. Some things many miss out is what are the steps taken to ensure the safety of patients in cases of emergencies like fire, especially in nations not as developed as the US.
One of the biggest patient safety issues is the lack of staff. This can be seen in the lack of nurses to care for patients in a optimal way. Second, we see this also in the long hours doctors need to work. Overnight calls or even several of them in a week is not good for the doctors or residents and certainly not good for the patients. This is a serious problem in medical school and residency programs. Because hospitals are big businesses, they want more to get as much as possible from their staff at a low cost. In the end, this hurts patients.
I think many hospitals are making efforts to make it easier for members of the public to think about how their presence may contribute to the presence of germs in patient rooms. Having spent too much time in the hospital as a visitor over the past months, I observed hand sanitizer dispensers by every elevator, by every entry to a patient care area, on the wall in every patient room, and so on. While this may not seem like direct patient safety, it certainly influences the recovery or likelihood of complications of a patient's condition.
Something that has been around forever but I have noticed more attention paid is patient id bracelets in hospitals. When my mom was recently hospitalized the nurses never did ANYTHING without checking the bracelet first to verify her identity -- even after she had been there for a couple of days with the same nurses. I was really impressed!
I think that patient safety is not as important as it has been in the past. Today, given the rising number of medical malpractice suits filed against doctors and hospitals,some medical professionals are fearful that anything they do will bring a suit against them.
Outside of that, I must admit that many medical offices and buildings are trying to look out for their patients. I cannot remember the last time I walked into a hospital and there was not a container of anti-bacterial "stuff" for public use.
One thing which I must agree with is the problems associated with prescription drugs. While sometimes complications arise as a result of the patient omitting information from their history, other times the medicines are simply not scrutinized enough.
I think the biggest area of concern in patient safety is the number of infections that are present in hospital through poor hygeine and cleaning practices. This is something that has received masses of press atention in Britain, where unfortunately a number of people die each year from infections they have caught from being in hospital.
Another problems that sometimes arises in patient safety has to do with prescriptions. Of course, there are many kinds of drugs out there and many people are taking multiple drugs. It is vital that doctors and pharmacists pay attention to possible drug interactions that could be dangerous to the patient.
Concerns about patient safety are growing, especially as more and more bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. Part of the reason for the development of this resistance involves the over-prescription of antibiotics; as antibiotics are prescribed more frequently, bacteria have more opportunities to evolve resistant strains. Also, if people who are sick fail to take their full prescriptions, bateria also have a chance to survive and to evolve resistance.