Certain hospital practices are proven to reduce medical errors and increase the safety of your or your loved one’s care.
An estimated 210,000 to 440,000 people die each year from medical errors, making it one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. Many of the errors in health care result from a culture and system that is fragmented.
Research indicates that mistakes are not necessarily due to providers not trying hard enough. Instead, they result from inherent shortcomings in the health care system. More research into patient safety is needed. Progress continues to be made to improve patient safety.
What can patients do?
- Speak up. Talk to your doctor about all questions or worries you have. Ask them what they are doing to protect you.
- Ask each day if your central line catheter or urinary catheter is necessary. Leaving a catheter in place too long increases the chances of getting an infection. Let your doctor or nurse know immediately if the area around the central line becomes sore or red, or if the bandage falls off or looks wet or dirty.
- Prepare for surgery. Ask your doctor how he/she prevents surgical site infections and how you can prepare for surgery. Let your doctor know about any medical problems you have.
- Get smart about antibiotics. Ask if tests will be done to make sure the right antibiotic is prescribed in the proper dosage, frequency and duration.
- Watch out for deadly diarrhea (aka Clostridium difficile). Tell your doctor if you have 3 or more diarrhea episodes in 24 hours, especially if you have been taking an antibiotic.
- Know the signs and symptoms of infection. Some skin infections, such as MRSA, appear as redness, pain, or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgery site and come with a fever. Infections can also lead to sepsis, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and other infection signs. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms.
What should your doctor do?
- Be knowledgeable about common causes for, and solutions to, medical errors
- Communicate fully any pertinent information about your care to other health care professionals;
- Participate actively in practice-specific activities that could lead to patient safety
- Commit, with your hospital, to ensuring that proper infection control and environmental disinfection procedures are performed.
- Regularly evaluate whether your central line or urinary catheter is necessary.