Many trust their lives to healthcare professionals on a daily basis. Last year we shared with you some information about how foreign objects are being left after surgeries causing patient problems. But, did you know that there are many more issues causing a widespread plague in our country? A recent study by Journal of Patient Safety reveals medical errors as the third leading cause of death in America after heart disease and cancer? In fact, 210,000 hospital patients die annually from preventable medical errors.
Let’s look at the numbers:
- A 1999 study first projected that as many as 98,000 people die each year from medical mistakes. In 2010, the estimate increased to 180,000 deaths. A new study puts the number between 210,000 and 440,000.
- Some estimates put the national incidence of wrong site surgeries, which includes wrong patient, wrong procedure, wrong site and wrong side surgeries, as high as 40 per week.
- Medical errors could be costing Americans nearly $1 trillion per year due to additional medical costs, productivity losses and shortened life spans.
While many healthcare factors are beyond our control, there are important patient safety items you should know before entering the hospital.
The Joint Commission recommends that you start with an awareness and willingness to communicate with your medical personnel.
- Speak up, ask questions, and ask again if you don’t understand. Know what to expect before and after a procedure, and if something changes, ask why.
- Pay attention and get the right treatments and medications by the right people; don’t assume anything.
- Educate yourself about your medical history: diagnosis, medical tests and treatment plan.
- Ask an assertive, informed family member to be there as your advocate and ask tough questions if you can’t.
- Know what medications you take and why. Bring a list including supplements and allergies.
- Use a hospital that has undergone rigorous on-site evaluation. Visit Medicare’s Hospital Compare, The Joint Commission’s Quality Check and Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score.
- Participate aggressively in your treatment. Ask doctors and nurses to wash their hands before touching you; check ID bracelets before treatments and medication; and label a procedure site with permanent marker.
If you have legal questions regarding medical care for you or a loved one, please contact Barrow Law Firm immediately. We want to make sure you are equipped with the right information to make the most sound legal decisions.