Are patients at risk during Chicago hospital stays?

Cook County patients and their families don’t see or hear about most errors that occur in health care facilities. It’s likely a hospital mistake will go unreported, unless an adverse effect is impossible to ignore. Medical error reports are not mandatory, unless a patient is injured or dies and, by then, the harm is done.

A wrong medication, poor treatment and bacterial contamination may pass by with patients none the wiser. Medical malpractice reports move to the forefront only after a patient suffers or takes action in court.

Hospital negligence is preventable. A physician writing for Forbes recently outlined several things hospitals did – and could change – that caused negative patient hospital experiences.

The doctor suggested physical injuries could be minimized if patients, especially elderly patients, were not administered high doses of sedatives or narcotics. According to one study, incidents of patient falls in hospitals were linked strongly to prescribed sedatives.

A patient’s lack of movement from constant bed confinement atrophied muscles even among young, relatively-healthy patients. Poor ambulation practices placed hospital patients at risk for pressure ulcers, temporary or permanent joint stiffness and broken bones.

Infections are spread through unhygienic practices among nurses and doctors, a problem that has doubled in hospitals during the last decade. The reduction of serious bacterial contamination is as simple as enforcing mandatory surface sterilization and staff hand-washing policies.

The Forbes contributor also accused hospitals of subjecting patients to psychological stress through upended regular sleep patterns, abrupt dietary changes and excessive noise.

Health care facilities are trying to cut down the error rate, but the physician believes hospitals could be doing a better job to safeguard patients. Hospitals that overlook or fail to admit mistakes endanger the people they are duty-bound to protect. Patients who suffer damage from medical mistreatment may take their concerns to an Illinois court, where compensation for injuries is possible.

Source: Forbes, “4 Ways Hospitals Can Harm You” Robert Pearl, Jan. 24, 2014

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Are patients at risk during Chicago hospital stays?