Hospital Negligence Attorney -Rise in U.S. Hospital Errors
Personal Injury Lawyers - Representing People Nationwide
A report by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM), a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization chartered as a part of the National Academy of Sciences estimates that 98,000 people die as the result of medical errors in US hospitals each year. That makes medical errors one of the leading causes of death and catastrophic injury in the US.
Even more disheartening, a study released in April, 2007 by HealthGrades, which provides ratings of hospitals, health care agencies and nursing homes in the US, found that patient safety incidents rose three percent overall from 2003 to 2005. It further found that the poorest-performing hospitals in the US had 40 percent higher rates of medical errors than the top rated centers.
Among the types of patient-safety incidents studied, the highest occurrence rates were for decubitus ulcer, failure to rescue, and post-operative respiratory failure. The greatest increases were in post-operative sepsis (34.3 percent), post-operative respiratory failure (18.7 percent), and certain infections attributable to medical care (12.2 percent).
While the nation’s best-performing centers provide benchmarks for the hospital industry, the study highlighted the need for additional vigilance at the more poorly rated ones. Fortunately we can do something at an individual level since research has shown that patients who take part in decisions about their health care tend to get better results. Following are tips you can follow to help protect yourself against medical errors:
Keep health professionals involved in your health care informed – make sure your doctors know which over-the-counter and prescription medicines, dietary supplements such as herbs and vitamins, and anything else you are taking. Make sure every member in your health care team has all your important health information, including any adverse reactions and allergies you have had to medicines.
Learn about your condition, tests, and treatment recommended by your physician. After a test, ask about the results. Don’t be embarrassed to insist that healthcare workers who have direct contact with you wash their hands first.
Chose a hospital that has experience treating your condition. Ask a friend or family member to be there with you – someone who can speak for you when you can’t. Before any surgery, make sure that you, your surgeon and your doctor are all clear on exactly what will be done. Ask your doctor about the treatment plan you should follow after being discharged from the hospital, and when you can return to your regular activities.
Ask questions about your medicines, such as what they are for, how and for how long you are supposed to take them, what side effects are likely, what you should do if they occur, if they are safe to take with other medicines, dietary supplements, and food and drink additives. Make sure your prescriptions are legible. If you can’t read them, chances are that your pharmacist won’t be able to read them either.
Talk to your pharmacist – ask whether the medicine you are given is the medicine your doctor prescribed. Ask if you have any questions about the directions on your medicines’ labels. For example, does “four doses daily” mean one dose every six hours or only during waking hours? Be careful when measuring liquid medicines. A household teaspoon, for example, is not a true teaspoon.
If you or a family member has been seriously injured or died as a result of hospital negligence, please contact us. We will help you find an experienced medical malpractice attorney near you who can help you recover the financial compensation to which you are entitled.