A health writer for Yahoo recently put together a list of the top 8 mistakes hospitals commonly make in treating patients. The list ranged from unhealthy hospital food to breaching the confidentiality of medical records, but some types of hospital negligence can be dangerous or deadly. Here are some things to watch out for:
Excessive wait times at the ER
According to the reporter, ER wait times got 25 percent longer between 1999 and 2009 due to an increase in visits and a decrease in the number of existing ERs. Longer waiting times are associated with higher rates of both hospital admissions and patient deaths.
While you should definitely go to the nearest ER in a true medical emergency, find out in advance which local emergency rooms have fewer delays so you can avoid those delays in less urgent situations. In either case, be sure to report symptoms like breathing problems or chest pain so you aren’t delayed unnecessarily.
Lack of hand-washing by doctors and nurses
Although it’s awkward, insist that doctors and hospital staff wash their hands. According to the CDC, around 5 percent of patients develop infections due to poor hospital hygiene, and one study found that hospital staff don’t follow their own hand-washing guidelines 60 percent of the time.
All too often, doctors and nurses give patients the wrong dose of their medicines — or the wrong medicine altogether. Be sure you understand exactly what you should be taking and why. If you suspect a mistake, ask to see your doctor’s notes.
Nurse understaffing and slow responses to call buttons
Hospital budget cuts often result in fewer nurses and a higher nurse-to-patient ratio. Yet when nurses are overworked, a New England Journal of Medicine study found, patients are 2 percent more likely to die. Moreover, another study found that patients sometimes wait nearly 20 minutes for a response when they push the call button.
If you have a choice, choose a hospital with the Magnet credentials developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center or ANCC, which means the hospital has been certified for high-quality patient care and excellence in professional nursing practices. You can find a list of Magnet hospitals at the ANCC’s website.
Hospital negligence can worsen patents’ medical conditions or even result in injuries and death. If you’ve been a victim of a medical mistake, consider talking to a lawyer.
Source: Yahoo! Health, “Protect Yourself: 8 Common Mistakes Made by Hospital Staffs,” Cindy Kuzma, Oct. 7, 2013