You went to the hospital to get better. The last thing you expected was for your health to get worse. Terrifyingly, though, reports indicate that approximately 440,000 patients die because of their hospital stay due to medical mistakes. In fact, studies indicate that only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans than hospital errors.
The most common hospital mistakes
Some of the most frequent medical mistakes that occur in hospitals including the following:
- Too much bed rest
- Medication mix-ups
- Misuse of antibiotics
While an unavoidable part of most hospital stays includes lying in bed resting, research indicates too much bed rest could weaken you, making you more likely to fall even months later. In addition, falls might not seem like a medical mistake, but they just might be since approximately one million patients suffer from hospital falls each year. Research indicates that over one third of those accidents fall into the “preventable” category. Falls could lead to not just internal bleeding and broken bones, but a longer hospital stay as well.
A longer hospital stay, in turn, increases the likelihood that more things could go wrong. Take, for example, the high incidence of drug errors. A recent Harvard study showed an average of 1,000 preventable medication mistakes occur every day in hospitals. Likewise, consider the misuse or over-use of antibiotics: While over 50 percent of hospital patients receive them, CDC research indicates they’re unnecessary or mis-prescribed up to half of the time, which then contributes to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a higher risk of deadly infections.
Finally, you’re ready to check out of the hospital and go home. However, you might not be out of the woods yet. Studies indicate that you have an approximately one in five chance of being readmitted to the hospital within 30 days following your discharge. Often, this happens because of an infection that only shows up after you’ve arrived home. You needed more treatment, but the hospital rushed you out the door.
Is there anything I can do to protect myself?
When it comes to bed rest, don’t hesitate to let the staff know if you feel you need physical therapy. In addition, once hospital staff clears you to get out of bed, make sure they evaluate your risk for falls. They should assess your fall risk upon admittance, and, if you’re weak or taking medications that might cause dizziness, they should provide assistance.
Always feel free to ask your physician about the necessity of an antibiotic. If your doctor suspects an infection, he or she should perform something called a rapid culture test in an attempt to quickly pinpoint the bacteria and then prescribe the lowest possible dose of the most effective antibiotic. Furthermore, when your doctor prescribes medication, you or another family member might want to write down the name of the drug, the dose and the frequency, along with what it’s for, to keep track.
I was injured due to hospital error, what can I do now?
It is ultimately the responsibility of the hospital and its medical staff to keep you safe and healthy. If you suffered harm and injury due to a hospital error or negligence, you might obtain compensation, which you could put toward resulting medical expenses, wages for missed work or other financial losses. However, with the heavy burden of proof often associated with medical malpractice suits, the representation of a Georgia attorney with experience in similar cases may prove invaluable in your fight for justice.