study reinforces the importance of respect in hospital settings

Of the seemingly endless stream of statistics concerning the state of health care here in the U.S., none is perhaps more discouraging than those relating to the rates of preventable medical errors.

For instance, did you know that over 400,000 people lose their lives because of preventable medical errors every year, making it the third leading cause of death in the nation?

While many of these avoidable medical mishaps undoubtedly take place in hospitals where patients are at their most vulnerable, the good news is that many institutions are at least aware of this unacceptable reality and are actively working to make things safer.

However, a recently released study by Consumer Reports suggests that in addition to purchasing new equipment, implementing new policies and procedures, and hiring designated safety personnel, these hospital officials should also focus on showing a little more respect to patients.

That’s because researchers found that those patients who felt they were shown very little respect by hospital staff were actually two-and-a-half times more likely to be victimized by a preventable medical error, and that better patient outcomes will likely result when hospital staff takes the time to listen and patients feel free to ask questions and speak openly.

Some of the more fascinating results of the study painted a picture of just how often patients feel discounted — or worse — in hospital settings:

  • 33 percent of surveyed patients stated that they didn’t feel their wishes regarding medical treatment were honored.
  • 33 percent of surveyed patients stated that hospital staff wasn’t always able to listen with interrupting.
  • 25 percent of surveyed patients stated that they didn’t feel as if hospital staff treated them like adults.
  • 20 percent of surveyed patients stated that they didn’t feel as if they were always treated in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.

Fortunately, the study also outlined some ways in which patients can protect themselves from similar experiences and, by extension, preventable medical mistakes. For example, they advise appointing a friend or family member to act as a healthcare advocate, writing things down and, of course, asking questions.

Have you or a loved one ever had an experience like this in a hospital setting? If so, did a medical mistake occur?

Source: Forbes, “Consumer Reports study: demanding respect from doctors may save your life,” Robert Szczerba, Jan. 19, 2015

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