How does it feel when traveling to a far away place where we know nobody and don’t even know the language? It can be quite unnerving. It is the same with a hospital visit. Health problems are bound to arise at some point or other and getting admitted in a hospital can be a scary prospect.
In such a scenario, the nurses who clean, feed and take care of other necessities, and the friendly doctors become our guides and friends. Patients tend to share things with them and start trusting them.
You would be shocked to learn that as many as 98,000 people die in hospitals in the United States each year, only due to medical errors. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that about 99,000 people die from hospital acquired infections each year.
Patient vigilance is the key to come out safe from a hospital stay. According to the president of the mid-Maryland chapter of the Emergency Nurses Association, Cindy Sellers O’Brien, “The patients that do better are the ones that take an active role in their health care. They have the better outcomes [because] they take more ownership.”
The American Hospital Association says that patients play a very important role. They say, “While we are striving for perfection in the way we deliver care, we know we fall short of that mark – but patients can help us get better. They can – and should – ask questions when something does not seem quite right.”
The medical errors caused by hospitals prove to be most dangerous for children. Figures show that one in 15 children that are hospitalized end up being victims of medication errors. Parents need to watch over their child’s hospital care to ensure no mistakes are made.
With so many dangers in the hospitals, how do you protect yourself and your family?
Here are a few tips given by the nurses who work in the hospitals:
Keep The List Of Medications Being Taken
This is said to be crucial when visiting a hospital. You should always keep a list of medications being taken by each family member at all times and update it as required. This list has to be taken to the hospital when you are going to the emergency room or being admitted in the hospital. The best thing is to have this list ready in the wallet at all times. It helps even if you fall somewhere and someone has to take you to the ER.
Make Sure Your Name Is Right
Ensuring that the hospital gets your name right is critical to getting appropriate treatment. This is important not only when a surgery is being performed but also when the patient is given medications or blood. Imagine being given the wrong type of blood just because of mistaken identity.
Check On Every Medication You Are Given
You will need to double check the name of the medication, the dosage and the timing when the medicine is given to you. I know many of you feel that they cannot interfere with such things, but it has to be done if you want to be safe. There have been many cases where patients were given medicines they were allergic to, which can result in a fatal outcome.
Ensure Everyone Washes Their Hands
If you think every nurse and every doctor does this, then you are mistaken. Even in the major hospitals, these things are not followed at times. Hand washing lapses happen all the time and as you know doctors and nurses pick up nasty germs that are transmitted to other patients.
Yes, this can be an uncomfortable situation where you may worry about spoiling the relationship with your doctor or the nurse, but it needs to be done diplomatically. You can say how you have had a bad experience with doctors not washing their hands and that you are paranoid about it. But remember, above everything else, you have a right to make sure they did wash their hands.
If You Sense Something Wrong, Speak Out
For example, if there is a medication written on the chart that you know could harm you or your family member who is the patient, make sure to let them know and remove that. Do not ever keep quiet if you think something is wrong. In doing so, you really don’t have to be mean and accusing, but be confident and convincing.
Just because a hospital looks clean and nice doesn’t mean it is. Just because doctors and nurses look professional doesn’t mean they are. Over the years, little progress has been made implementing key measures for the safety of patients. That’s why patients, their family members and friends need to be watchful at all times.
Patient vigilance plays a crucial role in ensuring your safety. You should keep your eyes and ears open at all times and never have the attitude that the doctors and nurses know everything. Yes, they do know everything, but they can be careless or simply make a mistake. While it may be a small mistake for them, it could lead to dangerous consequences for you or your family.