Exploitation and Cost of Poor Quality
“In a factory, if 30 percent more items were suddenly dropped onto an assembly line, the process would grind to a halt… But in health care there is a wondrous elasticity — you can keep adding work and magically it all somehow gets done. The nurse won’t take a lunch break if the ward is short of staff members. The doctor will “squeeze in” the extra patients.”
Healthcare systems are well aware of the work ethic that drove physicians and nurses to their careers in the first place and exploit this with impunity.
Healthcare can’t adequately be compared to manufacturing. Physicians and nurses are directly responsible for the lives of patients. That’s a hefty responsibility. The system can keep heaping additional burdens upon physicians and nurses, and the work will “magically” get done, but at great cost to care providers’ personal well-being as well as clinical outcomes
Between 40 – 60% of physicians are burned out. Burnout is often associated with self-destructive and disruptive behaviors such as substance abuse, increased interpersonal conflicts, fractured relationships and poor quality of life. Other symptoms include depression, withdrawal, suicidal ideation and tragically, suicide. A new study lead by Stanford University researchers found physician burnout is at least equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe medical workplace conditions, if not more so.
Between 250,000 and 440,000 people die every year due to medical mistakes.
Quantifying the Impact
An effective way to draw attention to the issue is quantifying the impact of the Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ) in your healthcare organization. COPQ are those costs associated with providing poor quality healthcare.
A 2008 study revealed that COPQ was estimated to be about $720 billion in the U.S. healthcare system.
Is there someone in the organization quantifying, in real dollars, the financial impact of medical errors, rework, litigation, settlements, payouts, hospital-acquired conditions, value-based purchasing-related lost reimbursement dollars, physician and nurse turnover, community reputation and loss of market share, reduced referrals, declining patient experience, etc. into a single composite measure: “The Cost of Poor Quality”?