Tips for hospital patients to protect their health

Many New York residents are likely to maintain the hope that area medical professionals will take reasonable steps to keep them or their loved ones safe during a hospitalization. Unfortunately, medical errors do occur and can have catastrophic consequences. A patient or his or her loved ones can still take measures in many cases to help avoid such errors and find help for those already hospitalized before a frustrating situation escalates into tragedy.

Surgery can carry tremendous risks for multiple reasons. According to one expert, surgeons in the United States perform 40 to 60 operations weekly on the wrong patients. A patient who is alert enough before the procedure to verify the surgery he or she needs may be able to avoid a disaster. Contact with capable doctors who understand the surgery a patient received can be life-saving in the postoperative phase, and patients or their relatives should keep track of important vital signs such as skin tone, pain level and consciousness to know when to call for help.

Poor sanitation can cause severe and unnecessary infections for patients as well. Those requiring tubes should stay updated daily regarding their continued need, and reminding staff to wash their hands may also be necessary at times. Medication errors can also be disastrous. Patients or their attending relatives should keep staff fully informed of their current medications and allergies, monitor what is being administered and ask questions when concerned.

Even with careful observation of safety tips such as these, some patients will inevitably suffer injury or death through acts of medical malpractice. Expert witnesses who can properly analyze a medical professional's apparent failure and subpoenaed medical records that illustrate staff behavior can often prove critical in an attorney's efforts to hold a doctor or a hospital accountable for a plaintiff's loss.

Source: US News & World Report, "How to Survive Your Hospital Stay", Lisa Esposito, June 03, 2014

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