Consumer Reports Study Finds Serious Safety Risks in Hospitals

Consumer Reports recently published the results of an extensive hospital safety study. The results show that patients are at risk of infections and other preventable injury at hospitals across the country. The researchers analyzed data from over 1,000 hospitals and also conducted interviews, reviewed medical literature, and drew from hospital safety investigations and inspection records.

The results show the dangers of medical injury sustained through complications, mistakes and medical malpractice during care.

Hospital-Acquired Infection

Infection is one of the greatest dangers faced by hospital patients. The study revealed a significant safety gap among hospitals, especially in a patient's chances of acquiring an infection while hospitalized. For example, one hospital saw infection rates over twice the national average.

Infections, together other medical injuries, cause nearly 200,000 hospital patients' deaths and injure about 1.4 million each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Other common - and dangerous - mistakes include medication errors such as incorrect dosage or medicine administration, surgery mistakes and errors caused by miscommunication among hospital staff.

Some hospitals have implemented changes designed to combat these problems, including electronic health record systems and safety checklists for preventing infections. Unfortunately, hospital patients are still at significant risk of sustaining an injury or suffering worsened health.

Patient Safety

Patients can take a number of steps to help reduce their chances of experiencing a medical mistake during a hospital stay:

  • Have family members or friends present when meeting with doctors and nurses to help with questions and decisions
  • Wash and sanitize your hands and insist medical staff always do so
  • Ask your surgeon to go over the details of your operation
  • Prior to discharge, ensure you are level-headed and pain is under control
  • On discharge, ask your doctor for written follow-up and wound care instructions
  • Contact your doctor or emergency personnel immediately if you experience significant pain
  • Keep careful records of all prescription and medication requirements and dosages

Many hospital patients experience problems such as infections, postoperative sepsis, bedsores and extraneous cuts or injuries that are unrelated to the medical problem that caused their hospitalization or surgery. If you have suffered from a medical mistake or error, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss any possible medical malpractice claims you may have.