Each year, thousands of people die in US hospitals because of medical errors, adverse drug events, and other hospital risks. Your best defense against these hospital risks is to educate yourself in advance of a hospital stay.
Steps to Avert 3 Common Hospital Risks
Hospital Risk #1: Your surgeon may not actually be performing your surgery. The best way to protect yourself from this hospital risk and avoid a potentially fatal surgical mistake is to check ahead to make sure your care won’t be turned over to a partner or last-minute replacement.
Hospital Risk #2: Use of “slow codes.” Slow codes, also known as partial, show, light blue, or Hollywood codes, are cardiopulmonary resuscitative (CPR) efforts in which the medical staff only goes through the motions to revive a patient who has advanced terminal illness or preexisting conditions that indicate poor prognoses. Although common in hospitals, the public is virtually unaware of the practice of slow codes and that it’s done without the consent and knowledge of the patient or the patient’s family.
To avert this hospital risk, you want to have a frank discussion regarding end-of-life preferences and options with your physician, and make sure a family member or friend is aware of your wishes and is willing to act as your advocate when and if you are incapacitated.
Hospital Risk #3: Adverse drug events (ADEs). ADEs cause nearly one in five injuries or deaths among hospital patients each year. Improper dosing is the most common medical error. You have the right to request proof that the staff is administering the right drug, the right dose ordered by the doctor, and that it is being administered correctly at the right time. When it comes to medical errors and hospital risks, this is one area where blind faith can be dangerous—even lethal.
Now it’s your turn: Have you, or someone you know, been a victim of these or other hospital risks or medical errors?