Individuals go to hospitals expecting to get well. However, the number of preventable hospitable deaths and diseases that occur are staggering. Recent estimates indicate that some 440,000 patients die each year in U.S. hospitals. Moreover, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 772,000 hospital patients develop infections. Of those, an estimated 75,000 die. Again, it is noted that these deaths and diseases are preventable.

Hospital Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

According to the highly regarded nonprofit hospital rating concern, The Leapfrog Group, hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. As well, Leapfrog reports that necessary improvements have not been made quickly enough. Information was collected from more than 2500 hospitals.

Hospitals must abide by certain medical protocols and guidelines. When a hospital, medical professional or hospital employee fails to follow specified guidelines, resulting in injury, harm or death, they may be held accountable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Injured parties and the legal heirs of deceased victims may pursue damages.

What Are Some of the Most Common Hospital Mistakes?

There are numerous preventable hospital mistakes. Consumer Reports lists five common ones: falls, antibiotic misuse, medication mix-ups, too much bed rest and chaotic discharge. Information published by U.S. News & World Report lists five common preventable errors: medication errors, too many blood transfusions, over-oxygenation of premature babies, healthcare-associated infections, and infections from central lines (tubes inserted into the body). Some of this is based on data from the CDC.

What Can a Patient do to Prevent or Reduce Hospital Errors and Fatalities?

There is a long list of actions that health professionals, patients, patient advocates and caretakers can take to help prevent hospital errors. One of the most important is to make sure all medications are checked and rechecked for accuracy. Make sure the proper type and amount is dispensed. Make sure there are no conflicting medications or known allergies.

It is essential for every healthcare worker and person who touches you or your personal effects to wash their hands. As simple and basic as this sounds, countless illnesses and deaths are caused by the transfer of germs – a result of not washing. Be your own advocate - for example, ask your healthcare provider if they washed their hands.

When a patient is released from the hospital, make sure a treatment plan is created by the health providers and is followed. If there are any questions, do not hesitate to contact your physician.

Michels & Lew, Los Angeles Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury Attorneys

Michels & Lew is a Los Angeles, California medical malpractice and personal injury law firm. Michels & Lew can be contacted at (310) 444-1200.