How Tired Are Doctors and Nurses, Really? (By the Numbers)

Tired doctors make more mistakes. Intuitively, we know this. And we may have read studies like this one (or related news reports). Yet medical culture still glorifies 28-hour shifts and puts residents through the ringer, often forcing them to work 80-hour weeks, all on an irregular sleep schedule that makes recovery from fatigue harder. The medical field has tried in the past to address this worrying problem, but how much have they achieved in recent years? How Tired Is Your Doctor? Regulations prohibit doctors from working more than 80 hours in a week or in excess of 28 hours in…

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How and Why Do Hospitals Get Shut Down?

Hospital closures throw communities into disarray, particularly in rural areas. Shutdowns disrupt emergency health services, putting locals at risk of injury and death. While urban areas (e.g. Washington D.C.) can generally finance alternative emergency care; poorer regions often lack resources to cope, especially after disasters like storms or fires. Why Do Hospitals Close? Many U.S. hospitals simply run out of money due to declining patient rates and uninsured patients. Others hemorrhage staff and can’t support community needs. Still others flounder because of inefficient management or logistical/infrastructure problems. Industry observers worry that this crisis will worsen in the next few years….

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Which Pieces of Medical Equipment Frequently Malfunction?

Medical devices serve a vital role. When operated effectively, they preserve patient health, minimize suffering and reduce cost of care. But they don’t always work as intended. In fact, devices fail far more often than most people realize. And these malfunctions cause injuries, accidents, and far too many deaths. Manufacturers insist, doggedly, that their products are safe, even when compelling evidence to the contrary is presented. And although device recalls occur with regularity, they come too late for thousands of patients. Which Devices Are at Risk for Failure? Any device that relies on blood or body monitoring is prone to…

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Tips to Ensure Your Doctors and Nurses Take Good Care of You in the Hospital

When you go to the hospital, you naturally want to assume everyone there has your best interests at heart—and most of the time, they do. However, when doctors and nurses work long shifts and care for many patients at once, it becomes easier for touch points to be overlooked or mistakes to be made. What can you do to help your healthcare providers give you the level of care you need and deserve? Here are some tips that may help. Be polite and respectful, even when you don’t feel like it. Let’s be honest: You’re not going to be at…

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How Dangerous Is Poor Air Quality in Hospitals?

For hospitals and other healthcare facilities, maintaining a high indoor air quality (IAQ) is a must for patient safety. Most hospitals install high-caliber ventilation and air filtration systems designed to clean the air and maintain healthy humidity levels. On occasion, however, these systems may either fail or prove inadequate, endangering patients, visitors and healthcare workers in the process. What are some of the potential dangers when a hospital has poor air quality? Here’s a partial list: Airborne pathogens. Disease germs and harmful microbes that float in the air pose the greatest health risk by far in poorly ventilated hospitals. Not…

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How Can You Make Sure Your Doctor Is Really Listening to You?

One of the biggest deterrents to medical errors is to establish clear, open communication between doctor and patient—however, sometimes a doctor visit can feel like you’re just being processed through the system without actually being heard. The primary reason is that your doctor sees many patients a day, and between following established protocols and perhaps a bit of fatigue, she might be running through the checkup on autopilot. What can you do to politely break that pattern to ensure your doctor really hears and responds to your concerns? Make a List of Concerns One way to keep your conversation on…

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Tips for Staying Organized When You Take a Lot of Medications

The more medications you take, the more complicated it can be to keep up with all of them. Which pills must be taken at which times of day? Which pills must be taken with food, and which ones on an empty stomach? Which medications might interact with other medications? If you happen to take more than a couple of prescription meds, the following tips should help you stay organized. Get a Weekly Pill Organizer Your local pharmacy sells one or more pill organizers with compartments separated by days of the week—and some even include morning and evening. Get one of…

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Can A False-Negative on a Flu Test Lead to Death?

A 15-year-old Georgia girl has become one of many US children to pass away during this year’s brutal flu season. Her story also shows what may happen when patients do not receive an accurate flu diagnosis. However, death can also occur when patients with the flu are not properly diagnosed and treated. According to the girl’s parents, they had taken her to a clinic after she became sick with flu-like symptoms. Doctors at the clinic tested the girl for the flu, but the results came back negative. Within less than three days, the girl died from liver failure. It was…

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How Incivility at Hospitals Can Put Your Health at Risk

When you or someone you love is sick or injured, it’s a natural stress point. Stress leads to frazzled nerves, impatience, and unfortunately, sometimes incivility. During hospital stays, we may feel the impulse to lash out at those assigned to our care. Sometimes, healthcare professionals even lash out at one another during times of high stress. It’s natural—but it can also be dangerous. That impulse may actually put your health at risk. A recent article in the Washington Post addresses a much larger, even provable problem: The fact that incivility can be contagious. When we are berated, we are more…

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What to Know About Central Line Infections

Central line blood infections are responsible for thousands of deaths each year. Also known as a central venous catheter, central lines are placed in veins near the chest, neck or groin. A central line is inserted into a vein close to the heart to provide medicine or collect blood. These are not to be confused with IVs, which are generally placed near the arm or hands to provide fluids or medicines. A blood infection can occur when pathogens (a virus or bacteria) enter the bloodstream through the central line. There are multiple reasons why central-line infections may occur. Poor sanitation….

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