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Staying safe while in the hospital

In New Mexico and rest of the U.S., about 400,000 deaths per year are attributable to hospital errors that could have been prevented. An expert in patient safety at one large hospital believes that hospitals are responsible for the patients' well-being while they are there. He says that when it is possible, engaging patients and their families also helps with improving safety measures.

Nearby hospitals' safety scores can be checked beforehand by Leapfrog's Hospital Safety Score. The hospitals are graded from A to F by their preventive efforts and their safety outcomes. It is important to bring any medications and supplements, or a picture of the bottles, to ensure against any possible adverse drug effects. Half of the 5 percent of dangerous drug interactions that occur in hospitals are preventable.

A friend or family should come along to ensure the patient's safety and interests. Many staff members and doctors may be present, so find out who is in charge beforehand. That is the person to pose any questions and concerns to and is the most important contact. Ask for simpler explanations if anything is too complicated to understand. Hospital-acquired infections could happen, so don't be shy about asking any nurses to wash their hands when they come into the room. Get a discharge plan in writing and find a contact person for any follow-up questions.

In the event of a death or injury due to hospital negligence, doctor negligence, emergency room error, or any other instance of medical malpractice, an experienced attorney could be able to help. An attorney may be able to aid the injured party or their family in filing for damages, such as pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: Fox News, "7 ways to prevent deadly and costly hospital errors," Elizabeth Renter, June 17, 2015

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