Hospitals are centers dedicated to our health. As such, we’d love
to assume that they are safe spaces by definition. Unfortunately, according
to researchers at
Johns Hopkins, medical error is now the third most common cause of death in the United
States. The silver lining (of sorts) is that we can greatly reduce these
risks by being proactive—by doing our due diligence. If you have
a loved one entering the hospital for a procedure within the next couple
of weeks, help keep them safe by following this hospital safety checklist.
Consult with your loved one’s doctor in advance. Make sure you and the patient both understand the upcoming procedure, what
steps will be taken and why those steps must occur. Ask lots of questions.
Take written notes.
Have your loved one name at least one health care proxy, and fill out an
advanced care directive. In the event your loved one becomes unable to make important medical decisions
regarding her care, she needs a trusted proxy who will enforce her known
wishes, whether it’s you or someone else. Obtain all necessary permissions
from the hospital beforehand so doctors and nurses can share medical information with you.
Gather all medical records prior to the procedure. Include a list of current medicines and dosages, any known medical allergies
or drug interactions and prior test results related to your loved one’s
condition. Don’t assume the hospital has this information or that
the information will find its way to everyone. Bring these materials to
the hospital, and keep a copy with the patient at all times. Make sure
all doctors and nurses see these materials before treating the patient.
Gather a team of advocates. Ask family members and friends you trust to help you watch over your loved
one in the hospital and keep medical personnel accountable. Make a schedule
(preferably round-the-clock) so a trusted ally is always present (or at
least on call) during the hospital stay.
For more information on how minimize the likelihood of medical error, check out our
recent post on the subject.
If you believe you or someone you love has been harmed by medical error, our
Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can assist. Please contact us to learn more.