5 Hospital Secrets Every Patient Should Know

(BeWellBuzz) It may come to you as a surprise if we say that hospitals can make you sicker and in extreme cases, take your life. According to Consumer Reports on Health, about 100,000 deaths are linked to hospital infection every year. You never know what’s going on “behind the scenes,” while you lay in your ward room!

Needless to say, hospitals are run by humans and doctors can make errors too, but it becomes serious when it affects you. Isn’t it?

So, what kind of mistakes do hospitals normally do? Your hospital could cause you anything from incorrect diagnosis, faulty treatment, make an entire bill for you or not give you enough care as you deserve or worse still, they could make you feel sicker than before!

Believe It Or Not: Hospitals Do Make Mistakes…

In 2006, the Institute of Medicine issued a report that stated that medication mistakes is the most common medical errors that led to an estimated $3.5 billion added costs for lost wages, productivity and additional health care expenses.  The report also confirmed that on an average, every day, one person per hospital gets worse due to one or the other drug error.

According to estimates by Centers for Disease Control, over 1.7 million people in a year get serious hospital-related infections. The worst part is that around 195,000 patients die each year because of hospital errors (as estimated by healthcare ratings from Health Grades).

So, it is wise to understand the dirty secrets of hospital, so you know the issues that you may encounter when you are genuinely in need of quality and timely hospital care.

Secret #1: The July Phenomena – The Month of Doom

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, “The average, major teaching hospital experiences an increase in risk-adjusted mortality of roughly 4 percent in the July-August period.”

Yes, July is the worst month to land in a hospital. Why is that so? It’s the month when your health will be given in the hands of new intern residents. In addition, a large number of experienced hospital personnel leave in July and are replaced by new and less experience ones. This study was carried out on 200 leading teaching hospitals by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Coincidently, 1,500 to 2,750 accelerated deaths per year happen in this span of migration.

However, this might not entirely be true! A recent study by Barry WA and Rosenthal GE at the Iowa City VA Hospital could not confirm any relationship between July and conditions of the patients in the ICU (the study included 28 top hospitals in the region.)

Whether there exists an effect of July admission on intensive care mortality and length of stay in teaching hospitals or not, we can certainly say that there is no harm in delaying your surgeries till August if they’re not very serious. Otherwise, who knows, you might get in hands of a resident intern who has no idea what he’s dealing with!

Secret #2: Low Quality Service & Hospital Medical Errors

Hospital medical errors can cause more deaths than life threatening diseases like Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Pneumonia. According to medical records released by Health Grades, 195,000 people each year die because of these tiny medical errors. The two main causes of these deaths are faulty diagnosis and not treating a problem in time.  This means that it is possible that you may be suffering with pneumonia while the doctor diagnosis is “a viral fever”!

What is the solution to this? Well, before visiting a hospital make sure to check its ratings from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services or from independent providers such as Health Grades or The Leapfrog Group.

Secret #3: The Stranger, Anesthetist

The operating room may seem safe to you, but what if the Anesthetist isn’t? Normally, people would do a background check on the surgeon but never on the Anesthetist while it is the most critical part of your surgery. A little more or less anesthesia could kill you! Although such cases are rare, they are not unheard of, and people with a previous medical condition possess even more risk in this regard.

Bruce Fagel, a physician cum medical malpractice lawyer says that surgeons rarely have any idea about their anesthesiologists. And why would they? It isn’t really their job, is it? So, before getting ready to go in that operating room, make sure to have a 1 to 1 discussion with the anesthesiologist.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists has done a good job in compiling some areas about which you can ask the anesthesiologist:

  • His qualifications? And if he is a medical doctor trained in the field of anesthesiology.
  • His previous experiences?
  • Who else is going to accompany him with this anesthesia?
  • Is he going to monitor the patient’s heart and breathing?
  • Does an anesthesiologist answer immediately when required in the recovery room?

Secret #4: Infection Payments

A lot of infections occur from hospital instruments, but that doesn’t mean that the patient should pay for them. Most of the time, these infections can be prevented by proper and timely hospital care, but if not, you don’t have to pay for them.

Yes, if you are a victim of any hospital error, you can say “no” and the hospital has no right to bill you.

Secret #5: Privacy and Hospital Confidentiality 

Privacy is a crucial issue these days and hospital confidentiality is no reason why your surgeries won’t be made public. How do you think that plastic surgery reports of Hollywood stars reach in the hands of tabloids? That’s because hospitals purposely sell it to them.

Maybe you think it’s not that important, but it really is, because those reports contain your identifications. In 2009, an employee of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles was charged with stealing 1000 patient records and then using them for certain insurance purposes. To avoid this, check the hospital’s privacy policy and request an account of all disclosures.

It is essential that we understand what we are up against when seeking hospital care. Knowledge of such hospital secrets can help a long way in getting quality and safe treatment to your problem.











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