PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HOSPITAL ERRORS
“Each year as many as 1000,000 Americans die in hospitals from preventable medical mistakes.”
Advocates agree that patients can minimize their risk by keeping a close eye on their care. Hospitals are busy places with lots of moving parts. “You cannot assume that people in the hospital have a really clear idea of who you are or why you’re there,” says Jean Rexford, director of the
for Patient Safety. Connecticut Center
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself:
* Bring an advocate---a friend or family member---especially for check-in and discharge. Many hospitals have a patient advocate or staff person you can consult. Or you can hire your own advocate, but be aware that the profession lacks licensing requirements, so get referrals and check credentials.
* Bring a notebook. Write down all your medications, why you take them and who prescribed them. Include phone numbers of key personal and medical contacts (and don’t forget your cellphone and charger). In the hospital when questions arise, write them down.
*Bring a big bottle of hand sanitizer. Put it by your bed to remind you and the staff to keep hands clean.
· Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, ahrq.gov
for Patient Safety (“5 Things to Know”), ctcps.org Connecticut Center
Aarp.org/bulletin MARCH 2012
Katharine Greider is a free-lance writer in
who reports on health and science. new York