Here are some scary statistics that should convince you to finally stop being intimidated by your healthcare provider and start asking the tough questions.
- A recent study, commissioned by the American College of Surgeons and surveyed members, suggests medical errors, job burnout, and depression lead surgeons to contemplate suicide at higher rates than the general public, and they’re much less likely to seek help.
- On September 6, 2010, a baby boy named Genesis was born three months premature at a Chicago area hospital. In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), he was given 60 times the normal dose of sodium in his IV bag. Blood tests that day revealed he had extremely high levels of sodium in his body, and despite doctor’s orders to have him checked, nothing was done for more than eight hours. Six weeks after his birth, Genesis Burkett went into cardiac arrest from an overdose and died.
- The American Medical Association most recent report on medical mistakes reported that 2,000 deaths occur every year from unnecessary surgery; 7,000 deaths from medication errors in hospitals; 20,000 from other errors in hospitals; 80,000 from infections in hospitals; and 106,000 deaths every year from non-error, adverse effects of medications. In all, 225,000 deaths occur per year in the US due to unintentional medical errors.
The Price of Medical Errors
What does this mean to the average person? Healthcare workers are human, get tired on the job, and make mistakes. As a result, patients and their families need to be alert so they do not get harmed physically, financially, and pay the ultimate price – death. The statistics confirm the problem with the number of deaths, infections, and unintentional medical mistakes that do occur.
Really now, is any question a ‘dumb’ question when you read these kind of statistics? I don’t think so.
Protect Yourself From Medical Mistakes
Two years ago a pregnant woman came into the ER complaining of stomach cramps. A nurse came to her and said she needed a CT scan.
Does that seem right? What questions could she have in this case? “Why do I need a CT scan? What do you hope to find from this? What is the radiation risk for me and my baby? Is there another test that could ascertain the information without exposure to radiation?
My advice: If something doesn’t feel right or you’re just unclear about the treatment or tests your doctor is recommending, trust your gut and don’t stop asking questions until you fully understand and, most importantly, are comfortable with the answers. By making sure ALL of your concerns have been put to rest, you greatly improve your odds for avoiding accidental harm and becoming the latest, unfortunate data point in healthcare’s scary statistics.
Surgeon Survey Article: http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/health/healthcare/2011-01-18-surgeons-stress_N.htm
Genesis Burkett Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/06/hospitals-sodium-overdose_n_845689.html
Thanks for reading!