A hospital stay can be a trying time for many people.  Not only do you have to deal with your ailment and the cost of treatment, but you also need to worry about the safety of your care. Among these are the risk of infection, which is one of the leading causes of hospital deaths.  This is the irony of modern hospitals.  The places your turn to get better may be making you sick.  With that in mind, let’s look at how safe is hospital care in America today.

Infections are usually caused by improper handling of catheters and IVs among other items.  Another challenge is mistakes in treatment. While most of these are due to human and errors, an unfortunate reality of hospital care is that accidents do happen.  These include a growing number of drug-resistant infections such as MRSA (methicillin-­resistant staphylococcus aureus). An infection such as MRSA can be deadly, especially when it enters the bloodstream.  Part of the problem is that many hospitals don’t recognize the infection until it is too late and this gives the infection the time it needs to overwhelm your system.

Another challenge is medical errors.  As good as medical care in the U.S. can be, a recent survey of preventable hospital deaths in developed nations indicated that the country was last out of the countries reviewed.  This means hospitals in other countries are doing a better job of preventing hospital deaths than those in the U.S.

Whilst not all medical errors are deadly, they are becoming more common.  According to some sources, nearly 20% of patients suffer harm from medical errors.  The preponderance of medical errors means that patients need someone to advocate for them.  Someone like a personal injury attorney who will make a case for medical negligence and make sure the situation is corrected.

Fortunately, some hospitals are taking actions to reduce preventable deaths.  However, other hospitals are less focused on the issue.  According to a Consumer Reports survey of 1,200 recently hospitalized people, those who said they were disrespected during care were ‘two and a half times more likely to experience a medical error.’

In many ways, this is shocking as one of the precepts of medical ethics is to treat patients with respect and dignity.  This lack of respect often leads doctors and nurses to misdiagnose symptoms and this can lead to prescribing the wrong medication or ordering unnecessary treatments.

One of the best ways for a patient to prevent this is to arm themselves with knowledge.  This includes checking the reputation of your doctor and your hospital.  In addition, you want to learn as much as possible about your condition, including the symptoms, common treatments, and the risk.  Being sick can be a scary time.  But you can ensure that you get yourself the treatment you deserve by arming yourself with the facts.

If a medical error does happen, then you want to make sure it is taken care of in a timely manner.  This is one of the reasons why checking the reputation of your doctor and hospital is so importantly.  If your caregivers have a history of sweeping medical errors under the rug, then you are at risk of having the same thing happen to you.

In addition, you want to reach out to the hospital’s patient advocacy group and if possible seek legal advice as well.  Proving fault when medical errors occur can be a daunting task, therefore you need someone on your side to walk you through the process.  This is especially true when doctors and medical staff try to use complicated medical terms to shield themselves from fault – a common tactic when things go wrong.  But you have a choice and you need to expect more from your caregivers.

While most people do get better after their hospital stays, accidents happen.  It could be an infection or medical error.  Either way, the result could be catastrophic.  Don’t become a statistic.  If you are a victim of a medical error, then you need to stand up and be recognized.  Most importantly make sure the issue is addressed in a respectful manner. If not, then reach out for help from people who can make a difference.

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