The Risks of Hospital Stays

Posted By Power Rogers & Smith, P.C. || Mar 31, 2012

We at Power Rogers & Smith, L.L.P. think that there are issues that patients need to be aware of before, during, and after hospital stays. A recent article published by the AARP outlines the risks of seeking hospital care, noting that in some cases, it made things worse for patients.

As with any organization, hospitals make human errors—however, the cost of their mistakes are far higher than most entities. For example, a 1999 report revealed that 100,000 Americans die from preventable mistakes while staying within a hospital.

An even more recent report, published in 2012, revealed that nearly 90% of hospital-caused mistakes go unreported. The unfortunate truth is that hospital mistakes, when unreported, cannot be corrected—this can leads to even more damaging mistakes later. For 37 million patients a year, 90% of mistakes is far more costly than anyone might realize.

Other studies find even more troubling statistics:

  • 44% of serious mistakes at hospitals are preventable
  • 1 in 7 patients received long-term injuries or died due to hospital care
  • In 3 of America’s leading hospitals, 1 in 3 admissions were harmed by their care

Improving the State of Hospital Care

Atul Gawande, a Harvard professor and surgeon, suggests that hospitals could take a cue from the aviation industry’s understanding of human error. Airlines often account for human mistakes and have created procedures to account for them. Through using simple “safety checklists,” small but crucial mistakes could be prevented.

In 2004, hospital units in Michigan utilized safety checklists regarding using catheters and reduced blood infections by around 66%. In roughly a year and a half, approximately 1,500 lives were saved as a result of using simple safety measures.

Part of the efforts to improve hospital care has been accountability. 29 states require hospitals to report infection rates publicly, and 28 states require reports on hospital errors. Around 10 years ago, hospital reporting was hardly heard of—now, over half of the nation requires it by law.

Protecting Yourself at the Hospital

While you should be able to trust your medical care providers, there are a few things you can do to ensure extra security during your hospital stay.

Follow these tips to make sure your hospital stay is extra safe:

  • Have someone with you during the stay. They will act as your advocate during check-in and discharge. If you need one, ask the hospital to provide a patient advocate. They will be able to help you make sure your care meets hospital standards.
  • Write down specific information about your stay in a notebook. All medications, reasons, and prescriber’s name. Key personnel’s numbers may also prove useful later. If you have any questions or concerns, write them down in the moment.
  • Bring hand sanitizer as a reminder to yourself and your care providers to keep their hands clean.

This blog summarizes an article from the AARP—click here for the original article and additional information.

Categories: Personal Injury

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