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Victims May Not Be Told About Medical Mistakes

Most people realize that there is a possibility they will not get a good result when going to a hospital. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to identify when the bad result was caused by preventable medical error. Doctors and hospital staff are not always forthcoming about mistakes that cause a patient harm. According to recent research from Johns Hopkins University, some errors are almost never reported to the affected patient.

Medication errors can involve a patient receiving the wrong dose, the wrong medication, or being prescribed an unsafe combination of drugs. According to the study, 98 percent of medication errors are hidden from patients. It is important for the patient or a loved one to be aware of every medication that is being prescribed, including the dose and what the drug is for. Before a drug is administered, ask what it is and what it is for. Asking questions could prevent a dangerous mistake.

Understaffing is another area of concern at many hospitals. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients staying on hospital floors that are understaffed with nurses are two percent more likely to die. Hospitals that are well regarded by nurses are generally safer. The facilities ranked highest by nurses are known as Magnet hospitals and are a good choice for people making a decision about where to have a medical procedure performed.

A study in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology recently found that medical personnel do not follow proper hand-washing protocols 60 percent of the time. Doctors were the worst offenders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that infections caused by improper hospital hygiene will strike roughly 5 percent of patients. It is important to make sure that your doctor washes his or her hands before treating you. At a minimum, the doctor should use hand sanitizer.

Source: Yahoo, "Protect Yourself: 8 Common Mistakes Made by Hospital Staffs," by Cindy Kuzma, 7 October 2013

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