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It’s Patient Safety Awareness Week!
A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine estimates that up to 440,000 patient fatalities, and millions of injuries every year are the cause of preventable medical errors. Between medication mixups, poor communication, and pure negligence, the healthcare industry sometimes causes more harm to patients than good.
From March 8 to March 14, medical facilities and communities around the country are observing National Patient Safety Week. This is the perfect opportunity to address concerns in your local medical facilities that could be leading to unnecessary injuries. Connecticut residents can spread awareness in their areas by knowing the facts and where to access resources to help fight for safer care.
Top 5 Threats to Patient Health
When a patient is hospitalized or seeks medical treatment, the general outcome is to feel better, not worse. Medical safety protocols are created to prevent common errors that are known for leading to injuries during care. But not all hospitals have comprehensive polices or follow protocols the way they are meant to be used.
Knowing the most common medical errors before you need care or treatment can help you spot mistakes before they occur. These are the Top 5 highlighted by Consumer Reports and how patients can help prevent them during care:
At least one-third of all falls in medical facilities could have been prevented if the proper precautions were taken. Falls are one of the most common accidents in a hospital setting and often the result of negligent medical practices. Patients who are left unattended or without fall protection equipment can suffer from broken bones, crushing injuries, or internal bleeding when falls occur.
Protect yourself or your loved ones from the possibility of falls by assuring hospital staff is taking the right steps towards prevention. Medical personnel should be asking questions about your history of falls, stability, and current medications. This information is critical to creating a fall protection plan during your care, including choosing the appropriate equipment, bed, and staff to help during your stay.
Over 1.5 million patients every year are negatively affected by medication mix-ups. Medical facilities have been known to make critical errors, such as:
There are countless ways that a medication error can occur, with protocols in place to prevent most of them from causing patients harm. Ask hospital staff for information on every medication you or a loved one is taking, what the side-effects are, and why they are needed. Check to make sure the nurse or pharmacist is administering/providing the correct doses the doctor has prescribed to avoid simple errors that result in devastating consequences.
Too many hospitals and medical centers are relying on antibiotics as a cure-all drug. Studies have shown that up to 50 percent of antibiotic courses are unnecessary or inappropriate. Patients who receive antibiotics they don’t need can become more susceptible to “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotic treatment. Additionally, patients can experience negative effects of antibiotic treatments mixing with other medications that are actually needed during care.
Before taking any antibiotics, ask your doctor if it is necessary and why. Make sure the antibiotic is specific enough to target your ailment and not too broad, where it will have little effect.
Chaotic discharges can open the door for several medical errors that do not surface until the patient arrives home. As many as 1 in 5 people who are treated in the hospital will be back within 30 days of discharge for additional treatment of the same or different conditions.
Patients who are discharged before they are ready or given incomplete discharge instructions increase their risk for infections and further complications. Health experts advise all patients to meet with a discharge planner one day before they are planned to be discharged to sort out the details of their release. Ask for a written summary and copies of all paperwork you will be given to provide you with ample time to ask questions. Make sure the paperwork includes any tests, scans, prescriptions, and future appointments.
Too Little Activity
Patients who develop pressure ulcers, also known as “bedsores,” are typically suffering from neglect during care. Bedsores arise when patients are lying or sitting down for extended periods of time without moving. These injuries can worsen when left untreated, with severe cases resulting in amputations and even death.
Patients who are not moved enough may also be at a higher risk for falls. Lying or sitting down can weaken parts of the body and make it harder to move. Studies have shown patients with little movement when ill can experience trouble with balance even months after leaving the hospital.
Medical staff is responsible for making sure that you or your loved one is moved around enough to prevent the occurrence of bedsores during care. If bedsores do occur, a plan should immediately be put in place to address the wound and prevent the occurrence of sores in the future. Ask medical staff what the facility’s policy is to spot gaps in care that could lead to injuries due to immobility.
How to Get Involved
Raising awareness and starting the conversation about patient safety in your community is the first step to inspiring real change. Here are a few ways you can make a difference during Patient Safety Awareness Week:
For more information on how to get involved, visit the Center for Patient Safety for additional resources!
Connecticut Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Hospitals and medical professionals have an obligation to prevent their patients from foreseeable harm. If you or a loved has been injured due to the medical negligence of a health care facility or physician, you may be eligible to receive compensation for any damages suffered. Contact our expert team of medical malpractice attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace for a free consultation and to explore your options.