Hospital Patients More at Risk in Developing Countries

April 18, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. endanger (v.) 
[en-deyn-jeyr] – to bring to harm or danger
Example:  Doctors who lack training may endanger the life of their patients.

2. shortage (n.)[ad-vursad-vurs]– a situation in which the amount needed is not enough
Example: The whole city lost electricity because of a sudden power shortage.

3. adverse (adj.) [ad-vursad-vurs] – harmful or unfavorable
Example: Pollution has been proven to cause adverse effects on a person’s health.

4. disability (n.) [dis-uh-bil-i-tee] – any physical or mental damage that prevents someone to perform a task
Example: The woman helped the person with disability to cross the street.

5. protocol (n.) [proh-tuh-kawl, -kol, -kohl] – a set of procedures for doing certain tasks
Example: Doctors should follow protocols to avoid harming patients.

Read the text below.

Poor healthcare in hospitals endangers the lives of patients in developing countries, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers studied 26 hospitals in Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, Sudan and Yemen.  They learned that more than one death per day in each hospital is caused by preventable accidents and poor performance of health professionals, and not the shortage of medical equipment or supplies.

An average of 8.2% of patients suffers from “adverse events,” or accidental results of poor treatment and healthcare management. These unwanted results include permanent disability, or worse, death.

Although adverse events also affect patients in developed countries, the chances of a patient dying from adverse events are higher in the developing world—with one in every three patients dying from such problems.

However, Dr. Itziar Larizgoitia, coordinator of the World Health Organization (WHO) patient safety working group, emphasized that health care professionals are not  completely at fault. He says the problem is mainly caused by poor systems in the hospitals.

Some medical staff may not have received proper training and supervision. Protocols for hospital processes, such as recording patient information, are also lacking. There are even hospitals that do not have water for hand washing.

As for the solution, Dr. Larizgoitia added that it is necessary to develop safety practices to suit patients’ specific background and culture, because practices that are best for one culture may not always work well for other situations.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that the medical professionals are not to be blamed in case of an adverse event? Why or why not?
·         How can the performance of medical professionals be improved?

Discussion B

·         In your country, what are some of the problems being faced by medical professionals?
·         What do you think are the best solutions to these problems?


April 18, 2012