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Five Hospital Secrets That Could Save your Life

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Most of us don’t enjoy a trip to the hospital. If you are already sick, the first priority on your mind is getting better as quickly as possible so that you can get out of the hospital and back to your daily routine. While most patients do get in and out of the hospital with relative ease, according to several sources there are many who don’t.

For example, according to a 2006 study by the Institute of Medicine, on average, one person at every hospital is harmed by a drug error. Furthermore, The Centers for Disease Control estimates that roughly 2 million people a year die of preventable hospital-related infections. Finally, according to HealthGrades, a firm responsible for ranking healthcare facilities, about 195,000 patients die each year from hospital mistakes.

However, there are five secrets that the medical professional community doesn’t want you to know. These little-know ways of protecting yourself could save your life.

#1 Avoid the most dangerous month in the hospital, July. New interns start working that month and with the adjustment to the new environment, long hours, and stress of all the new responsibilities, you can expect increased errors in patient care. In fact, a National Bureau of Economic Research study of 200 major teaching hospitals, the influx of new interns corresponds to an increase in patient deaths by 1,500 to 2,750 per year.

#2 Checking a hospital’s rating can save your life. Preventable in-hospital medical errors cause more deaths than Alzheimer’s, diabetes, pneumonia, or kidney disease. The majority of medical errors are caused by improper diagnoses or failure to treat a problem in a timely manner. Checking into a hospital’s record on medical errors could save your life.

#3 Don’t just conduct a background search on your surgeon prior to your surgery—check your anesthesiologist, too. While complications from anesthesia are rare, they do sometimes occur, and can be deadly when they do. Ask your anesthesiologist the following questions: 1) What are your qualifications and are you a medical doctor trained in anesthesiology? 2) How many procedures have your performed? 3) Who else might be aiding you in my anesthesia care? 4) Will you monitor my heart and breathing? 5) Is an anesthesiologist on-call to the recovery room?

#4 You are not required to pay for your hospital and doctors’ medical mistakes. Since October 2008, Medicare stopped paying for hospital errors. If you are asked to pay for a medical infection or error, just say “no”—most likely, your hospital and doctors will not be able to pursue for payment due to Medicare’s decision.

#5 Your medical records aren’t as confidential as medical professionals would like you to believe. HIPAA doesn’t protect you from everything. For example, there are several exceptions: 1) Hospitals and doctors can share your information with other affiliated organizations, such as providers is other states. 2) Hospitals sometimes use some of your information to solicit donations. You can opt out, but many patients don’t understand their rights to do so. 3) Hospitals are required to turn over any of your medical information if asked to so for national security reasons. Talk about a total abandonment of privacy: there is no court order or review necessary prior to disclosure.

Please keep these five secrets in your mind the next time you have to make a trip to the hospital. It could save your life.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    Great point on the anesthesiologist, that is not an area where mistakes have much gray area. They play to vital a role in the procedures.