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Research shows hospitals not as safe as patients like to think

When a patient goes to the hospital, that patient expects to receive a certain level of care. Often times, patients do not understand the full extent of an injury or illness. They rely on their doctors and nurses to make sure that the appropriate procedures and medications are provided for them.

But a recent study published by Health Affairs indicates that one in three individuals admitted to hospitals receive an injury due to medical malpractice and medical errors. Using a new method of scanning patient's medical records, researchers found that there were 10 times as many errors at three major US hospitals than previous research had shown.

Though many states typically use oversight boards to track medical errors, the effectiveness of these boards varies. This poses some concern since patients who enter the hospital should not have to worry about contracting a disease while getting treated for another injury.

Some things can worsen a patient's medical condition such as:

  • Hospital workers who don't wear gloves or follow proper sanitization procedures; this could put patients at risk of contracting dangerous bacterial infections
  • Not monitoring patients: patients who are allowed to lie down too long can develop blood clots that block arteries and can even cause death
  • Overusing blood thinners following surgery: patients can experience uncontrollable bleeding if they are not properly educated on the use of blood thinners
  • Sleep-deprived hospital staff: too little sleep can significantly impact a doctor or nurse's judgment and ability to recall important details

In many cases, hospital errors can make conditions worse for patients and increase their medical costs unnecessarily. In the worst scenarios, patients can die from hospital errors. When that occurs, victims and their families could be entitled to compensation through a medical malpractice suit. A settlement can help alleviate some of the unexpected costs that come with increased medical care.

Source: LA Times online, "Hospital errors -- how to avoid them," Marissa Cevallos, 08 April 2011

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