Hospitalization is often necessary to treat serious illnesses, but patients in South Carolina and throughout the country need to take a few steps to insure the safest stay possible. There have been an estimated 1.5 million medication errors every year, according to a recent study by the National Patient Safety Foundation, and over 1,000 other serious mistakes that have caused unnecessary deaths or worsening of illness. Notable cases included a man who lost his leg when a post surgical drain was left in too long and newborns who have died of Heparin overdoses.
Unless a patient is facing an emergency, he or she should take the time to investigate the hospital and other providers that will be in charge of their care. Many people do not do this, but it can be as simple as looking up the prospective hospital and physician online and verifying all their licensing. Many resources can be found at the Agency for Health Research and Quality. Institutional and physician safety records are more available now than they ever have been, and patients may want to take advantage of this information.
Experts advise that people check for hospitals that are Magnet certified and don’t go into a care situation alone but bring a family member or friend. Patients should insist that all providers wash their hands before beginning a procedure, and prepare a list of their medications, dosages and medical history. The most important thing to do is ask questions and speak up if something seems wrong.
The Institute of Medicine reported in 1999 that at least 90,000 patients were adversely affected or die from medical errors, and hospitals have been working on correcting this, but even the most proactive patient can be injured or even killed as a result of an egregious error. Victims of medication errors or surgery mistakes may be able to obtain compensation for their medical expenses with the help of a South Carolina medical malpractice attorney.
Source: Huffpost Healthy Living, “Safe Health Care for All During Patient Safety Awareness Week,” Kim Siarkowski Amer, March 12, 2013