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3 Lighting Issues That Become Major Hospital Risks & Liabilities

3 Lighting Issues That Become Major Hospital Risks & Liabilities

From a medical professional’s perspective, minor lighting issues can lead to remarkable risks and liabilities on the hospital’s behalf. When doctors and staff work in less-than-ideal situations, there is always an increased risk for mistakes. We’re talking about safety lapses, surgical errors, and deadly infections.

At best, these problems affect your patient’s overall satisfaction, and perhaps your organization’s reputation. At worst, they lead to botched procedures, prolonged hospitalizations, deaths, and medical malpractice suits.

We’ve put together a guide of lighting issues that can occur in either the hospital facility or off-site clinic situation. We’ve divided the list into two major issues and one minor situation.

Take a look at your practice to see if your staff is struggling with these:


2 Major Lighting Issues That Become Major Hospital Risks & Liabilities


1. Electrical Shock Risk 

Electrical shock risk affects almost every employee and patient in your hospital. In a medical facility, staffers are most at risk when plugging in equipment, working on equipment that has not been correctly “Locked Out / Tagged Out,” or when an electrical plug is overburdened.

Electrocution is a serious workplace hazard. Shocks can lead to injured staff, workers comp claims, and loss of quality talent. It can also lead to employee lawsuits.

The Electrical Safety Foundation (ESFI) is a non-profit organization which focuses on electrical safety in homes and workplaces, and published these statistics in 2017:

  • Exposure to electricity is the sixth leading cause of death in the workplace.
  • Employees in the utilities sector make up the lion’s share of fatal electrical injuries, more than 54%.
  • There were more than 2000 non-fatal electrical injuries in 2017. Roughly 13% of them (260 or so) occurred in “scientific, professional & technical” services.
  • The younger an employee is, the more likely he or she will suffer an electric shock injury at work.
  • Non-fatal electrical injuries lead to an average of 2 days of missed work (which can lead to overtime expenses, as the rest of your team scrambles to do the additional work).

Here at obp, we realize that not every electrical risk is addressed with our single-use, self-lighting medical devices. However, we understand that a big part of risk management is risk reduction. We can help you reduce the risk!


2. Slip, Trip and Fall Risk (STFs) Make up 25% of Hospital Staff Injuries

The second highest cause of injury in hospitals is from slips, trips, and falls (STF). (The most common injury at hospitals is back injuries.) Power cords, extension cords on the floor, and poor ambient lighting are all factors at play in your hospital’s STF injury rates.

This article by Antea Group says it best: “In the United States, STF by hospital employees account for 25% of injuries; in the United Kingdom, SFTs account for almost half of the workplace injuries in healthcare. These STFs can, at minimum, result in a decrease in the healthcare worker’s ability to do his or her job effectively, but all too often can also result in lost time or even disability for the worker.” As you see, these all lead to increased hospital costs.

Antea Group (linked above) lists the top ten STF risks in a hospital, and notes inadequate lighting as #6, and tripping hazards including cords and wires as #9.

Those two situations, electrical shock and STFs, are the most glaring injury risks your staff faces daily. But there are other considerations, too. Poor overhead lighting leads to the use of additional lamps which are not correctly attached to equipment, or plugging – unplugging of other vital equipment to attend to lighting. Let’s take a closer look at these.


1 More Issue That Becomes a Major Risk & Liability


Obstetric Misdiagnosis Due to Poor Lighting at Clinics & Hospitals


Diagnosis is probably the most crucial task a clinician performs. It determines the subsequent course of treatment and prepares a patient mentally and emotionally for what happens next. Diagnostic errors place financial burdens on both the patient and the facility. They also lead to serious emotional upsets on behalf of a patient. (These tremendous emotional upset can lead to malpractice suits.)

As medical professionals ourselves, we know that medicine is a practice. Doctors, surgeons, and staff are all human beings capable of having a bad day or making a mistake.

  • Your clinic lighting and equipment should never be the reason for misdiagnosis.
  • Our single-use, self-lit medical devices provide clinicians with the light they need, in the form of sterile items they are comfortable using.


On Misdiagnosis Among Complicated OB Patients

lighting above surgeons


In their 2014 article study of misdiagnosis of complicated obstetrical cases in the Philipines, Riti Shimkhada, Orville Solon, Diana Tamondong-Lachica and John W. Peabody wrote:

“The prevalence of misdiagnosis among obstetric providers was 29.8% overall, 25% for CPD, 33% for PPH, and 31% for pre-eclampsia. Linking provider decision-making to patients, [they] found those who misdiagnosed the simulated cases were more likely to have patients with a complication (OR 2.96; 95% CI 1.39–3.77) compared with those who did not misdiagnose.”

Shimkhada et al. noted that complicated OB patients in their study were more often misdiagnosed and:

  • Significantly less likely to be immediately referred to a hospital
  • Readmitted to a hospital after delivery
  • Experienced significantly higher medical costs
  • Lost more income than non-complicated patients

Of all medical fields, obstetric providers are among those served best with our equipment. Our HER-SPEC, single-use, click-free, self-lit vaginal speculum offers a complete solution for both clinicians and primary care providers.


The Key Takeaway

It’s difficult to quantify precisely how many patient deaths, misdiagnoses, or infections have occurred due to poor lighting conditions. It is equally difficult to establish how many malpractice suits and other increased costs hospitals have incurred from inadequate lighting in the OR, or how this has affected employee morale.

We do know that patients’ risk of dying from medical mistakes, deadly infections, and safety lapses have gotten much worse at the lowest-ranked US hospitals, per The Leapfrog Group, a group dedicated to providing hospital facility ratings and reports.

If you’d like to learn more about our single-use medical devices and how they can make your hospital a safer, more productive place to practice medicine, contact us today!


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