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Quality care not a given in hospitals

Kentucky residents may not be aware of the high number of patients who are subjected to medical errors or who experience issues with their healthcare. A study of nonfatal errors conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Medicine found that almost one in five patients are harmed in some way during the course of their hospital care. The number may be larger since some patients might not report medical mistakes or quality problems with their care.

John Hopkins researchers estimate that 98,000 people die annually as the direct result of their medical care. Mistakes can run the gamut from surgical errors to healthcare-acquired infections, medication errors or other hospital mistakes.

Patients anticipating a hospital stay can take certain steps to reduce the risk of errors or issues. A family member or close friend should stay at the patient's bedside from admittance to discharge. While there, the designated advocate should keep a written record of any concerns or questions as they arise and make a note of the time and involved staff members. Surgery may result in difficulty speaking and may also affect thinking and memory. Before surgery, discuss how to communicate needs to staff members.

When scheduling a surgery, keep the following statistics in mind. A Friday surgery date may seem like a good choice; however, the risk of death within 30 days of an elective inpatient procedure is 44 percent higher if performed on a Friday than a Monday, perhaps because there are fewer senior experienced staff on hand on a Friday.

Kentucky residents who have experienced a negative medical outcome as the result of a medical error or healthcare negligence may be entitled to compensation. An experienced medical malpractice attorney may be able to help them get the compensation that they deserve by examining hospital safety records or other data in addition to the details of their cases.

Source: News Sentinel, "Health Sentinel: Hospital patients should expect and ask for quality care", Jennifer L. Boen, July 08, 2013

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