The role of patients and families in dietary safety

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

August 26, 2015

Hospitalized patients have a long list of potential safety concerns, ranging from medication errors to deadly infections. One thing they probably aren’t thinking about is the food.

A report published in June by the Pennsylvania Safety Authority (PPSA) shows that dietary errors may be more frequent and problematic than many realize. Between January 2009 and June 2014, Pennsylvania hospitals reported 285 dietary errors to the PPSA. Incorrect meals delivered to patients with allergies occurred most frequently, accounting for 181 events. Fifty events involved patients who received the wrong diet, and 43 involved meals meant for another patient. Eleven meals were delivered to patients that were not supposed to receive any food by mouth.

With a long list of patient safety priorities, dietary errors frequently lurk in the background. Although the PPSA data is limited to Pennsylvania hospitals, it offers a new perspective on the patient safety risks inherent in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of meals that are serve each day.

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