Whether you’re caring for a loved one in the hospital or you’re the one doing time in the adjustable bed, your entire focus should be on healing. The last thing on your to-do list should be watching everyone like a hawk to make sure no one screws up.
But you might have to do it anyway. Or, at the very least, you might need to ask friends and family to take on the task for you.
Because new research reveals a terrifying truth about hospital care. Medical mistakes are being made with SHOCKING frequency.
In fact, they’re happening so often that it’s not just “possible” you’ll be the victim of one at some point or another. It’s practically guaranteed.
Today I’ve got some steps you can take the next time you or a loved one is hospitalized to cut down on the odds that this nightmare scenario strikes too close to home.
Hospital errors happen alarmingly often
I have to be honest with you. This stunning new report on medical mistakes hits incredibly close to home for my loved ones and me.
Someone in my family was recently hospitalized for a medical emergency. We watched as he got worse… and worse… until we were gathered together in tears, praying for the best but sure he was slipping away from us.
But our sorrow transformed into horror because it turned out he wasn’t merely sick. He was being poisoned!
Not intentionally, of course. But carelessness led to medical mistakes that could have been catastrophic. My loved one was overloaded with potassium. It nearly sent him into kidney failure and killed the poor guy.
Fortunately, they found the error in time. Unfortunately, he’ll be living with kidney issues for the rest of his life as a result.
Now, imagine that problem striking not just my family member but bunches of folks in every hospital in America. Imagine medical mistakes made in practically every other room in the building.
Then stop imagining because that’s how often it happens. More than one in four Medicare patients are harmed during their hospital stays.
45% of medical mistakes are preventable
The new report focused on one million Medicare patients discharged in a single month. The researchers found that 258,323 had experienced some kind of harm due to medical mistakes made during their care.
Some issues were relatively minor or temporary. But many were not. Nearly half – 121,089 – of the folks suffered from a serious problem caused by those medical mistakes. And that led to longer hospital stays, the need for life-saving interventions, and even death.
Now, mistakes can happen. And I don’t believe any doctor, nurse, orderly, tech, or anyone else in the hospital wants to cause harm. After all, healthcare tends to attract some of the most caring folks out there.
But it’s also obvious they’re not doing all they can to avoid those medical mistakes either. Because the study finds that 45 percent of them were entirely preventable.
The most common errors involved:
- pressure ulcers or injuries
- preventable surgery complications
- hospital-acquired infections
What’s truly outrageous here isn’t just the medical mistakes themselves. It’s that this has been an issue for years now. Yet the new numbers look a whole lot like the old ones.
In other words, no one is taking responsibility, and no progress is being made in changing the situation. And, unfortunately, that leaves it up to you and me to do it ourselves.
Don’t become a victim of medical mistakes
I get it. No one wants to be a nuisance. But when you or a loved one is in the hospital, that’s precisely what you need. Because being an unapologetic pain in the rear end could prevent more medical mistakes.
Question everything. That includes the diagnosis… the procedures… heck, even the FOOD. And feel free to seek out a second opinion to ensure there’s agreement across your entire care team about the next steps in your treatment.
Pay particularly close attention to medications in the hospital. They’re a common source of medical mistakes. You want to know what drug you’re receiving, the dosage, what it’s treating, and the patient’s name it’s intended for (to be sure it’s meant for YOU).
Of course, if you’re the one in that bed, you may not be fully capable of handling this yourself. You may not even be conscious.
So have the talk NOW with whoever you expect will be by your side in that situation. When it comes to your care, let your loved one know they should be a pain in the you-know-what. Because, as the new report reveals, medical mistakes could make your next hospital stay your last.
But don’t let your guard down once you leave the hospital, either. As I reported a few years ago in my post, “Is your pharmacist a danger to the public?” you could be taking your life into your hands every time you go to fill a prescription.
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