Taking Charge of Your Care to Avoid Mistakes
Infections and mistakes are common in hospitals. Patients who are informed and involved in their care after a medical procedure may help to avoid mishaps.
While in the hospital for surgery, an emergency or an outpatient procedure, patients in Ohio and elsewhere have the right to expect professional treatment. Unfortunately, many experience an adverse event, such as a mistake or infection while admitted. Some of these mishaps might have been avoidable.
According to Consumer Reports, about one out of every 20 patients get an infection during their stay in the hospital. Many infectious illnesses are present in hospitals – some of them serious bacterial or viral germs. Patients may also suffer an injury or worsened medical condition due to a miscommunication or lack of following procedures. While it is not always possible to avoid mistakes in the operating room and during recovery, there are steps patients may take to reduce their chances of developing infections or other post-procedure complications.
Being Informed and Proactive
The Institute for Healthcare Improvement points out that the risk of readmission may be reduced when patients have adequate support, education and post-operative coaching. This often starts while patients are preparing for a procedure. Before going in for surgery or treatment, patients may want to consider the following:
- Consulting with the doctor or surgeon on the procedure, how it will be performed and what to expect during recovery
- Obtaining a list of recovery instructions, including how to keep a surgical incision clean, what to look for regarding infection, activity restrictions, prescribed medications and how often to take them
- Discussing current medications and supplements with the doctor, potentially avoiding adverse drug reactions
- Creating an advance directive that explains measures to be taken if there is an emergency or incapacitation
After a procedure, it may help to enlist a trusted family member or friend as a patient advocate. While recovering, hospital pain medications may temporarily leave a patient disoriented and unable to understand doctor instructions. During this time, it is crucial that post-operative procedures are followed to avoid injury or infection. A patient advocate may be vital in stepping in while the patient is recovering.
Each time a member or staff arrives to check the incision or perform a procedure, it may be helpful to ensure that they have washed their hands and taken necessary hygiene measures to keep post-surgical infection at bay. Patients and their advocates also have the right to be informed of each aspect of their care. It may help to ensure that what is written on patient charts is accurate and up to date, especially when staff changes shifts or the patient is transferred to a different area.
Patients have the right to be knowledgeable in all aspects of their care and to insist that safety procedures are followed. An experienced Ohio medical malpractice attorney may be able to assist if a medical error caused harm.