Think of your local hospital or clinic. What words come to mind? Safety? Health? Healing?
Hospitals should be the safest places in the world. But contrary to our perceptions, going for a regular clinic checkup has hidden dangers. Between the years 2009 and 2014, 280,000 medical malpractice claims were paid out. And a third of those claims involved a patient death.
Other common reasons for medical malpractice suits to be filed include diagnostic error. Another type is negligence.
The Noll Law Office, a personal injury firm, https://www.noll-law.com/personal-injury/, says “Consider the case of a nursing home that forgets to provide necessary diabetic medication to a resident, which causes substantial injury.”
So how can patients stay safe even while getting treated? Here are the main areas in which to practice caution:
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When going in for surgery….
According to stats gathered by the AARP, there are 39 cases per week of US surgeons leaving a foreign object in the body of a patient. Surgeons and doctors can make mistakes.
What can a patient do to decrease chances of mistakes? Make sure you mark the site of the surgery. And double check with nurses and staff the exact location of the surgery site. This will reduce the chance of having the wrong side operated on.
If you are too unwell to ask questions on your own behalf, ask a friend to be your advocate and talk about your concerns to the medical staff. The hospital may have a patient advocate on staff. But if you can have a friend or a family member perform these duties for you, the more at peace you will feel.
When getting medication prescribed…
Medication errors occur in 1.5 million cases a year. If you have any concerns about the safety or the necessity of the pills being prescribed, keep asking until all your fears are allayed. Get a second opinion if needed.
Make sure you receive clear explanation regarding the medication given. Talk with others on the medical staff and have them read your chart and what you are being prescribed. Then look up what you are being prescribed online.
When staying overnight at a hospital…
Falls are not only one of the leading causes of injuries in hospitals but also the number 1 cause of injury among older Americans.
If you are feeling unsteady on your feet, ask for a walker to help you move about. Avoid times of day when the hospital corridors are particularly busy or moving about where light is dimmed.
Do not overexert yourself. If you are on the road to recovery, it is natural to feel weak and lightheaded, which can lead to being unstable on your feet. Know when to push yourself to be active, but also when to stop and rest.
Additionally, be on guard against infections in a hospital, which can be deadly dangerous. This happens when antibiotic-resistant bacteria are transmitted through catheters or ventilators. The CDC recommends the following:
- To protect yourself from hospital infections, keep your hands clean always.
- Ask visiting family member and friends to wash their hands before touching you. And do not be shy about making sure that medical staff do the same. If you did not see a doctor or nurse wash their hands before administering care, make sure to ask them to do so.
- Staff should always use a new needle and syringe when administering your shots or drawing blood. If you did not see them open a package to take out a new syringe, double check that they are not reusing the instrument.
When your child is staying at a hospital…
Children experience the same vulnerabilities that adults do when staying at a hospital. But as the parent or guardian, you can improve their hospital experience.
Do not be a silent observer. If you see something that raises a question in your mind, bring it up immediately with staff. If there’s something in the hospital paperwork that you do not understand, ask. Be polite and respectful, but do not allow your questions to be left unanswered.
Trust is built through knowing about the team who will be monitoring or operating on your child. Ask them questions about their experiences and get to know them. This should help you feel more comfortable with their medical skill.