24 June 2013

Hospitals, Hazardous to Your Health?

I have been reading quite a bit lately about hospitals and it is scaring me. I am using one doctor's blogs to illustrate what is being said. This doctor is not the only doctor saying this. These are representative blogs very similar to many other blogs; however, this doctor works for a hospital and therefore these blogs are shocking, but written with care and honesty.

In her blog Dr. Lena Wen states, “Hospitals are dangerous places. In 1999, a landmark study by the Institute of Medicine found that 100,000 people die every year because of medical error. This is more than the deaths due to car accidents, diabetes, and pneumonia, and is equivalent to a fully-packed Boeing 747 crashing and killing all on board every single day.”

Rather a sobering statement, and that is just the beginning. I would advise following the links she has in her blog. They show how the deck is presently stacked against you if you enter the hospital. She is not afraid to lay out the facts.

In her second blog, she covers the 10 most common errors that can occur during your hospital stay. I will list them is hopes that you will want to read the detail for yourself.

#1. Misdiagnosis.
#2. Unnecessary treatment.
#3. Unnecessary tests and deadly procedures.
#4. Medication mistakes.
#5. “Never events”.
#6. Uncoordinated care.
#7. Infections, from the hospital to you.
#8. Not-so-accidental “accidents”.
#9. Missed warning signs.
#10. Going home—not so fast.

Hospitals are recognizing these medical errors as a significant problem. They are taking steps to make care safer. Medicare does recognize this problem and is denying some payments for rehospitalization and lack of quality care. This starts to shrink the hospital profits, so you know that gets their attention. Will they take steps to correct hospital errors? Some hospitals are – to a point, but many hospitals are still not getting the picture, as the administrators and hospital boards are not on board with the improvements necessary.

Some errors are easily preventable and cost effective, but still people are too lazy to implement them. The biggest thing that could help prevent hospital infections is hand washing by all concerned, physicians and nurses. Many surgical tools are improperly cared for and stored. Until hospitals start a quality assurance program and penalize employees for not following rules and regulations, little will change. Until hospital administrators and hospital boards start quality programs and show that they are behind this, little will change.

If you are hospitalized, here is hoping that you do not become one of the grim statistics.


  1. I am absolutely terrified of hospitals. I'd rather get on a roller coaster, and I don't do roller coasters.

  2. This is very scary, and I witnessed all this first-hand in a situation about two weeks ago. Actually, I have a blog coming up on this for Thursday... something definitely needs to be done.

  3. Thanks Mike. Look forward to reading it!