Medical Errors Cause 444,000 Deaths a Year…
Think that number has to be wrong? I wish it was.
Due to all that's going on in our economy, along with the new health insurance regulations, hospitals are feeling the squeeze like never before. They have to hit their numbers or administrative heads roll. Of course this trickles down and the ramifications are mostly felt at the patient level.
We have friends who are in the hospital often, unfortunately, due to long-term health issues. In the past 6 months they've seen a serious decline in patient care and an even more serious increase in medical errors.
Thank God this family knows that when a loved one is hospitalized, they can NEVER be left alone.
Someone has to be there around the clock–always with children and with adults if they're not awake and alert–nicely asking things like, “What are you giving them now?” “What procedure is that and why is it being done?”, and constantly questioning the nurses and doctors about their loved one's care. Obviously you don't do this in a rude or annoying way–building a relationship with caregivers almost always equals better care, and besides, most nurses are lovely people! Just don't assume, “They must know what they're doing,” because often they don't. Make sure you research each new medicine or procedure they say is “necessary”. YOU have the final say in the care of your loved one, not them. (Remember the Jacob Stieler case: Do we have the right to deny harmful medical treatments for our kids?) These friends have told me about several close calls recently, when a medication was almost given that could've caused death. I'm not exaggerating in the least. This is why I believe the number is accurate, because if the problem is so prevalent with ONE patient, it's not even a leap to assume that it's happening everywhere a lot.
I spent quite a bit of time in the hospital recently with our niece, Hailee, after the accident (she and Shane are doing well by the way, thanks again for all of your prayers!), and what was most concerning was how every medical person told us something different! Not only that, the communication between them was very poor. Once I spoke with a nurse about something really important and specifically asked her to put it in Hailee's chart, and the nurse that came on the next morning knew nothing about it when I brought it up.
This type of stuff is happening constantly!
By the way, I do believe that most nurses and doctors have their patients' best interests in mind, and most also have great big hearts, but something has to be done regarding these medical errors.
Trust me on this: If a loved one is hospitalized, do not leave their side unless you have another advocate to take over for you while you're gone.
One more important bit of advice:
When you see any type of medical error, big or small, or something that makes you even a little bit uncomfortable, document all of it. Sadly, we live in a time when we, and parents especially, are seen as a threat if we don't blindly follow along with whatever the hospital or the doctor says, whether we agree that it's necessary or not. Obviously, many doctors are still very much in the correct mindset that patients, or the parents, have the ultimate choice, but not all, so be aware.
Still find it all hard to believe?
Read this article from Forbes: Stunning News on Preventable Deaths in Hospitals:
These people are not dying from the illnesses that caused them to seek hospital care in the first place. They are dying from mishaps that hospitals could have prevented. What do these errors look like? The sponge left inside the surgical patient, prompting weeks of mysterious, agonizing abdominal pain before the infection overcomes bodily functions. The medication injected into a baby’s IV at a dose calculated for a 200 pound man. The excruciating infection from contaminated equipment used at the bedside. Sadly, over a thousand people a day are dying from these kinds of mistakes.
If you aren’t alarmed enough that our country is burying a population the size of Oakland every year, try this: you are paying for it. Hospitals shift the extra cost of errors onto the patient, the taxpayer and/or the business that buys health benefits for the infected patient. My nonprofit, which provides a calculator of the hidden surcharge Americans pay for hospital errors, finds most companies are paying millions or even billions of extra dollars for the cost of harming their employees.
Have you experienced medical errors with your loved ones, too? Do you agree that patients cannot be left alone or do you think I'm overly concerned?