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Medical Errors Causing Injury

by David Peel on December 1, 2012

InjectionPatients in hospitals are injured by medical mistakes or preventable problems in over 1 out of 3 stays, according to a recent study published by Health Affairs, which confirms that hospital mistakes, harmful events and medical malpractice problems are even worse than we suspected. As an injury attorney, I see tragic events every day.

The most common harmful events that injure patients occurring in hospital stays are:

38% medication related injury (such as wrong medicines, double dosing, drug interaction)

28% procedure injuries (such as surgery on incorrect body part, stitches do not hold)

18% hospital-acquired infections (such as staph, MRSA, infected bedsores)

04% blood clots (such as pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis)

Harmful events during hospitalizations cost all of us by lengthening stays considerably. The average hospitalization is about three days, but it more than doubles to eight days when just one harmful event rears its ugly head. Also, readmissions to hospitals are much more common after a harmful event.

Extra days in the hospital equal money. A full 17% of Medicare’s hospital payments are for readmission to the hospital. Since these readmissions cost an average of $14,500.00, and some much more, it takes few of these tragedies to unnecessarily run up bills.

How can you be safer?

1. Ask your nurse each time to verify what exact medication is being given. It is a great idea to keep multiple copies of your current medication list handy.

2. Ask your nurse all the names (generic and trade names) that your medications may be called and jot those down. Often, mistakes are just double dosing on the same medications called by different names.

3. Ask your nurse or doctor what medicines or substances you should never take, given your current medications and medical conditions. (For example, people on blood thinners usually will be advised against eating green leafy vegetables regularly, as this promotes blood clotting.)

4. Make sure that the nurse taking you to surgery follows procedure by double checking your identity bracelet and verifying your procedure and doctor’s name that day. They now often mark the leg that needs surgery “yes” and the other “no” to reduce chances of operating on the wrong leg.

5. Check for bedsores, proper turning or repositioning, and assure regular changing of diapers and general cleanliness. Take photos of bedsores.

6. Make sure you know what signs and symptoms should be worried about before you get discharged. Usually signs of infection like fever, swelling and red streaking should get you back to the doctor right away.

Most doctors and nurses are wonderful, committed heroes. Most will tell you, though, that mistakes can and do happen. The proactive patient and family is most likely to benefit and not be harmed by medical treatment.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.

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