This Tool May Help Detect Medical Malpractice

The Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Global Trigger Tool may be the best way to detect and help correct medical malpractice in hospitals.

What Malpractice Is the Global Trigger Tool Trying to Detect?

Hospitals and care providers commit a staggering number of errors every year. An injury or illness caused by a healthcare worker is called iatrogenic harm. Death from iatrogenic harm, otherwise known as medical error or accident, is a leading cause of accidental death in the United States. It is so common that it rarely makes headlines.

Although individual negligence is responsible for some iatrogenic harm, the Global Trigger Tool works on the assumption that most malpractice is the result of faulty institutional systems. Experts often find it difficult to classify and categorize the faults because medical institutions rarely include iatrogenic harm in medical charts.

The IHI designed The Global Trigger Tool to uncover many types of malpractice. Surgical site errors are common and might result in a surgeon operating on the wrong organ or limb. Other medical errors include medication mistakes and mislabeling. Medication mistakes can lead to patients suffering severe injury or even death from receiving the wrong dosage. Mislabeling of samples may lead to misdiagnosis and other problems. These errors only make up a small portion of the malpractice the Trigger Tool works to detect.

How Does the Global Trigger Tool Work?

Traditionally, information about medical malpractice was based on voluntary reporting by medical institutions. Studies have found that medical institutions and healthcare workers only reported 10 to 20% of errors. To better capture medical errors, the IHI developed the Global Trigger Tool to search medical records to determine when an adverse event has occurred. Once the Trigger Tool identifies an adverse event, researchers can determine whether a medical error caused the event.

The IHI has developed an extensive list of triggers with the help of health institutions worldwide. Some triggers causing additional investigation are:

A patient fall.
Readmission within 30 days.
Transfer to a higher level of care.
Abrupt medication stoppage.
Although the Global Trigger Tool can help identify medical errors, many medical institutions resist implementing expensive changes to help reduce malpractice. Until medical institutions embrace the Global Trigger Tool to decrease their incidence of medical error, patients are still at risk of injuries from medical malpractice. If a patient suffers iatrogenic harm, a medical malpractice lawyer can help him or her recover compensation for damages.