When you are taken to a hospital, one of the unwritten contracts you have with that facility is that the people who work there don’t do anything to make your health or condition worse.
But according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, 10 percent of all U.S. fatalities are linked to hospital errors, and hospital errors have now become the third leading cause of death in the country. In fact, a quarter of a million deaths occur every year due to hospital errors, and the numbers may be even higher, because the means of reporting these types of deaths is still being refined.
It’s important to understand that these are not intentional acts by hospital caregivers, but often mistakes that arise out of miscommunication and simple human error.
Doctors take the oath to ‘do no harm,’ but unfortunately that doesn’t mean mistakes don’t happen. The irony is that patients go to hospitals to heal and yet, in some instances, they actually get worse because of the treatment they receive.
When analyzing this issue, there are seven types of hospital errors that can become life-changing events.
Giving the Wrong Medication Is a Major Hospital Error
Big hospitals treat hundreds of patients, so it’s not surprising that nurses and other caregivers may end up giving patients the wrong medication, the incorrect dosage, or fail to realize that the medication they are administering may provoke an allergic reaction.
Help prevent this mistake by asking your caregiver what medication you are taking, what the medication treats, the dosage, and the potential side effects.
Infecting a Patient
Hospitals are supposed to be clean, sterile places – but too often, patients are getting infections when they stay at these facilities.
In fact, nearly 650,000 people each year in the U.S. develop hospital-acquired infections, and 75,000 of them die as a result of these infections.
To put this into perspective, the number of fatalities from hospital-acquired infections each year is double the number of fatalities caused by car accidents.
Most hospital errors related to infections are preventable if doctors, nurses and caregivers simply wash their hands. It’s an inexpensive and efficient way to stop the spread of infection.
The most common types of infections patients get at a hospital include urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, gastroenteritis, pneumonia, and meningitis.
Ask anyone who is going to touch you to wash his or her hands before providing personal care.
Misdiagnosing Your Illness
In some instances, a doctor may misdiagnose your illness and recommend treatment that can cause adverse reactions in your body.
That’s because there are many illnesses with the same symptoms, which makes it easier for doctors to diagnose one illness when in reality, it’s a different closely related illness that is plaguing you.
If you have any doubts about the diagnosis you receive, ask for a second opinion.
Wrong Site Surgery
Wrong site surgery refers to a hospital error in which a surgeon operates on the wrong side of the body, on the wrong organ, or on the wrong patient.
At the very least, wrong site surgery is dangerous; at the extreme, it can kill you.
Before you are put under anesthesia for your surgery, make sure you confirm the exact procedure that your doctor will perform, and on what body part or area of your body.
Injuries From Slips and Falls
Slip and fall accidents in hospitals are more common than you might think.
A recent study found that an estimated one million hospital patients fall each year, and 33 percent of those falls were easily preventable.
Hospitals are filled with obstacles such as medical equipment, and the risk of falling is significantly higher for elderly patients.
If you have had a history of falling, or you are in a weakened state that makes your body unstable, tell your caregivers about your situation so that they can take additional measures to prevent a fall that could cause an injury.
Mistakes Administering Antibiotics
Antibiotics are one of the most popular medications doctors use to treat patients in hospitals, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in fifty percent of all cases, patients do not need antibiotics, or they are given the wrong type of antibiotic.
Misuse of antibiotics is linked to an increase in resistant bacteria and can leave you more vulnerable to infections.
When your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, ask why the medication is necessary, and request the lowest dosage possible.
Another hospital error occurs when doctors discharge some patients too early, which often results in patients being readmitted within a few days or a few weeks for treatment of the same problem.
When your discharge date is approaching, talk to your doctor about what to expect when you get home, and the action plan for your full recovery.
Often, there are certain foods, drinks and activities that you must avoid to help with your recovery, and if you are on medication, you must take it until it is finished.
It is also important to know the date of your next doctor’s appointment and to follow any physical therapy instructions that you must do at home.
Hiring An Advocate For Your Medical Claim
Medical errors can be life-altering events that take years of recovery. These are mistakes that cannot just be overlooked, because there are actual damages that can compromise a victim’s future.
The experienced team at Miller Weber Kory, LLP operates under the guiding principle of dedicated and aggressive service to our clients, and those are qualities that are needed when we take on medical malpractice claims. Please contact us today at 602-648-4045 for a free legal consultation.