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There is no doubt that the hospital can prove to be a rather intimidating atmosphere for sick patients. Aside from worrying about impending procedures or the general state of their health, patients have to contend with being hooked up to strange machines, taking a regimen of unfamiliar drugs and communicating with seemingly indistinguishable staff members on a regular basis.
It’s important for people who find themselves hospitalized to understand that while it’s perfectly acceptable to be unnerved by the whole experience, they don’t have to feel powerless. In particular, there are certain steps that they can take to protect themselves from otherwise-preventable medical mistakes and help ensure that their hospital stays proceed as smoothly as possible.
Watch your medications
While you would think that hospitals were perhaps the one place where you would be almost entirely immune from medication errors, this is hardly the case. The general commotion of this setting, coupled with rotating staff members and long patient lists, often means that patients are administered the wrong dose or perhaps even the wrong drug.
As if this weren’t shocking enough, a recently released study from Johns Hopkins University found that hospitals actually conceal these medication errors 98 percent of the time.
Fortunately, safety advocates indicate that hospital patients do have options to protect themselves from prescription errors. The first is making sure that the hospital where they are admitted is equipped with bedside scanning, which is essentially a computerized system that allows a nurse to scan the barcodes on ID bracelets and medications to verify that the patient is indeed being administered the proper drug and dosage.
The second, and simpler, option is for patients to maintain their own list of updated medications and have the hospital physician verify each one of them and carefully explain any new medications prescribed.
Keep track of staff members
In the fast-paced atmosphere of the hospital, there is a steady stream of rotating medical assistants, nurses and physicians. Adding to the confusion is the fact that these physicians include everyone from attending physicians to physicians in training who are not licensed independent practitioners.
If the prospect of having care managed by physicians in training — who are perhaps more prone to medical mistakes — makes a hospital patient uncomfortable, safety advocates advise that they can always look at a name badge to establish the caregiver’s identity or simply ask them politely. This simple step will allow them to distinguish between the physicians in charge of their care and make sure any important inquiries are directed toward the attending physician.
To be continued …
If hospital negligence here in Pennsylvania has caused you or your family unnecessary and unfathomable pain, consider speaking with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Source: Yahoo! Health, “Protect yourself: 8 common mistakes made by hospital staffs,” Cindy Kuzma, Oct. 7, 2013