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Preventing medical mishaps while hospitalized

Oklahoma residents depend on hospitals to improve their health and save their lives, but statistics show that hospitals can be downright dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700,000 Americans develop infections while being treated at hospitals each year, which leads to around 75,000 deaths. Meanwhile, it has been estimated that approximately 440,000 patients die from medical errors during hospital stays each year.

Many hospital deaths are preventable, and patients can take steps to protect themselves from common hospital-based mishaps. For example, falls are a top cause of injuries in hospitals. Patients should make sure the medical staff evaluates their risk upon admittance. Antibiotic overuse is another major problem, causing so-called superbugs to develop and spread deadly infections. If prescribed an antibiotic, patients should ask why and find out if it is truly necessary. Drug errors are also a top problem in hospitals. Patients should tell medical staff every medication they are on, including dietary supplements, to avoid negative drug interactions. When a drug is administered, patients should verify that it is the correct medication and correct dose.

Physical inactivity can weaken the body and make falls more likely during recovery. Bedridden patients can flex their muscles while lying in bed to improve strength. They should also undergo physical therapy as soon as they are medically cleared. When discharged, patients should ask for written instructions on what to do at home, including details on proper wound care, dietary and activity restrictions and medication use.

People who have been harmed by hospital negligence are often required to undergo further expensive care and treatment. They may want to have the assistance of counsel in seeking compensation for their losses.

Source: Consumer Reports, "5 Common Medical Mistakes to Avoid in the Hospital," Hallie Levine, April 10, 2016

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