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7 Lifesaving Hospital Precautions

Posted by Jerry De Luca on Wednesday, July 18, 2012

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there are approximately 180,000 deaths in US hospitals every year due primarily to surgical errors and infections. About 1.4 million are critically harmed by their hospital care but recover.

Peter Pronovost, M.D., senior vice president for patient safety and quality at John Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, says: “Medical harm is probably one of the three leading causes of death in the US, but the government doesn’t adequately track it as it does deaths from automobiles, plane crashes, and cancer.” 

About 5% of patients will develop an infection during their hospital stay. This is mainly due to inadequately sterilized needles or catheters, unclean instruments and a lack of proper hand washing by doctors and nurses. Here are 7 steps in preventing hospital catastrophe:

 Before choosing a hospital, compare safety and quality of hospitals in your area. Two web sites that help you do this are 
https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html? and leapfroggroup.org.

2) If you are harmed in a hospital, get a copy of your medical records, contact your state health department, and consider sharing the incident with SafePatientProject.org, an organization that advocates for patient safety in hospitals. 

 Before touching you, make sure all staff and visitors have adequately washed their hands.

 Infections from central-line catheters are common, and busy hospital staff don’t always remove ones that become unnecessary from day to day. Ask daily if all catheters and tubes in use are needed. 

 Chronic diseases like diabetes and regular smoking increases infection risk. Heartburn drugs increase the chances for pneumonia and intestinal infections. Make sure the doctor knows you are more vulnerable than others and take precautions.

 Don’t allow yourself to be discharged unless your pain is being managed by oral drugs, if you feel faint, or are having problems moving your bowels. 

 Once you’re discharged, make sure you’ve been given clear instructions on your drug use, caring for your wounds, diet and physical activity.

The editors, “How Safe is Your Hospital?” Consumers Reports, August 2012 

Photo: BenBraddock (flickr)


Jerry De Luca is a Christian freelance writer who loves perusing dozens of interesting and informative publications. When he finds any useful info he summarizes it, taking the main points, and creates a (hopefully) helpful blog post.