Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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Why You Are Safer on a Highway Filled with Drunk Drivers than in a Hospital starstarstarstarstar

As many as 440,000 Americans die annually from preventable medical errors or mistakes. Because of this fact, it’s plausive to believe that you may be safer on a highway with drunk drivers than at a Florida hospital. After close evaluation, it is determined that someone is more likely to be killed by a medical error than by a drunk driver. Ultimately, this is most likely caused by diagnostic mistakes, although it has been estimated that medication errors, which sometimes result in death, are estimated to occur in half of all hospitalizations. A recent study by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has ranked medical mistakes as the third leading cause of death in the country. Whatever the numbers, the fact remains that one medical malpractice injury or death is too many.

Tips to Prevent Hospital Errors in the United States

  1. When you are given medicine, ask your medical professional what it is for, if it interacts with others you are taking and whether an allergic reaction or other side effects may occur with its use. Keeping a list or photos on your phone of the medications you currently take can help to avoid interactions with any that are newly prescribed.
  2. Always provide a complete medical history to each provider who sees you. This will ensure that everyone who cares for you is aware of any past surgeries, medical conditions and medications you take.
  3. If you are having surgery, the doctor should mark the location or limb to be operated on with a pen. It is not uncommon for surgery to be done on the wrong body part. The nurses and doctors should be certain that you understand why your surgery is being done and that you know what part of your body they are operating on.
  4. Hospitals have many types of bacteria that lead to infection. Make sure that anyone who comes into your room or begins an exam has washed their hands and uses gloves.
  5. Find out if the hospital and/or surgeon has experience performing this procedure. Hospitals with the most experience have the best outcomes and are better able to deal with possible consequences or errors.
  6. Ask to see your own medical record. Verify that the information has been documented correctly and there are no errors regarding history or medications.
  7. Always get a second opinion. Having another professional review your medical record and examine you is always a good idea.
  8. Avoid scheduling your surgeries in July and August, if possible. These are the months that new residents take over and having someone with more experience will certainly be the best option.
  9. Take a friend or family member with you to act as an advocate for you. You will need someone to listen to what the doctors have to say, to ask questions you may not think of and to be your eyes and ears when you are sick or medicated.
  10. Know who your doctor is, and who the team is that will be caring for you. Always ask questions and speak up if something doesn’t seem right.

By taking control over your healthcare, even if it means being labeled the “difficult patient,” you will be taking the best approach to prevent medical errors and becoming a statistic.

John Leighton, Esq., is a board certified personal injury trial lawyer and managing partner of Leighton Law with offices in Miami and Orlando. He represents seriously injured victims of negligence, sexual abuse, medical malpractice, violent crime, defective products and resort, travel, and vacation accidents. His lifelong passion is helping people who have had the worst thing happen in their lives.

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