Thursday, May 5, 2016

Survival Tips

Intuitively you already know this:
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

“For real” verification of what you already know was published in two recent Washington Post articles that reported research findings which were published in medical journals.

Here’s the story:

"It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeing care,” explained Dr. Martin Makary, a professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the research which was published a couple of days ago in the BMJ (formerly, the British Medical Journal). (1)

In a paper recently published in JAMA Surgery (Journal of the American Medical Association) , researchers said that they discovered: “…a mere seven procedures accounted for approximately 80 percent of all admissions, deaths, complications and inpatient costs related to emergency surgeries.” 

“The seven dangerous and costly procedures are mostly related to the organs of the digestive system: removing part of the colon, small-bowel resection, removing the gallbladder, operations related to peptic ulcer disease, removing abdominal adhesions, appendectomy and other operations to open the abdomen.” (2)

So, what can you do to protect yourself from becoming an additional bit of datum in a future research medical error report ?

Answer… Do Not Go to the Hospital for Any Reason!!!

O.K. I know that at some point you may wake up in the emergency room. And / or knowing that there is next to nothing you can do to protect yourself from errors made during surgical procedures. Then, if you must be in the hospital, here are ten suggestions aimed at enhancing your possibility of surviving your post-surgical hospital stay.
  1. Empower someone you trust and who loves you to be your patient advocate.
  2. Each day, especially Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, at the beginning of every shift, your patient advocate must meet and be confident in your assigned nurse. Follow this practice until you leave the hospital.
  3. Move to a room, as close to the nurses’ station as you can be. If the room is semi-private, ask for the bed closest to the entry door.
  4. Make sure your patient advocate understands which medications your doctor has ordered for you as well as how much of each medication you are to receive.
  5. Make absolutely certain that your patient advocate ensures that your nurse correctly administers your medications as your doctor has ordered.
  6. Do not submit to any procedure unless you understand that your doctor has ordered it for you and you have agreed to have it done.
  7. Closely observe the nursing team and make certain that they wash their hands and use clean gloves; do not use suction tubes which have fallen onto the floor or onto your bed; and maintain sterile technique when required, e.g. when changing a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) dressing.
  8. Question everything and ask your questions in three different ways.
  9. Ask what are the known side effects of every medication and procedure.
  10. Research everything until you feel comfortable that you understand.

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