Secrets that hospitals don't tell their patients

Hospitals in New York and around the country have been keeping secrets from their patients, according to a recent piece on the subject. The secrets vary by facility, but they are all fueled by one or more of three factors, according to an associate professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital: profit margin, the fear of lawsuits and professional egos. Being aware of these secrets may help patients and their families prevent medical errors or recognize mistakes when they occur.

Medication errors are more common than doctors tell their patients: A Johns Hopkins study claims that doctors sweep mistakes under the proverbial rug 98 percent of the time.

Some hospitals have systems that require them to scan the medication and the patient identification bracelet to ensure that the proper medication is given. Even with these systems in place, errors can occur. Patients can protect themselves by asking questions and keeping records of the medications they should be taking while they are in the hospital.

Another common secret is that doctors do not always wash their hands before they see patients. While they may always wash after an examination, patients should insist that they witness their doctor wash their hands. An estimated one in 20 patients develops an infection that can be attributed to poor hygiene.

Hospital menus do not always include healthy foods. Some patients are served high-sodium, high-fat foods that may prevent them from getting well quickly. A conversation with a hospital dietitian may reveal hidden menu choices that include steamed vegetables and veggie burgers instead of lasagna and hot dogs.

Patients who experience medication errors or infections caused by germs or bacteria in the hospital may face additional expenses as they recover from their new illnesses or injuries. A personal injury attorney may be able to help medical malpractice victims determine if they have a claim and, when appropriate, file the appropriate paperwork with the local courts.

Source: FOX News, "8 secrets your hospital keeps", Cindy Kuzma, September 29, 2013

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