For the First Time the Government Releases Information on Hospital Mistakes

Doctors and medical personnel are human too. Like the rest of us they sometimes make mistakes. That’s why it’s so important to be a well-informed and empowered patient. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you think that the procedure is wrong. A lot of patients die each year because of the hospital they are in makes an avoidable mistake.

My mom was one of them. She passed away five years ago because of a hospital-acquired infection that turned fatal. I’ve also caught several mistakes that doctors have made with me over the years.

Some were relatively harmless like the time a doctor prescribed a steroid with an antibiotic for a mouth infection. But one time it was life threatening. I was prescribed two different potassium-sparing ACE inhibitors for blood pressure and the potassium level in my blood got so high that I had to go to the hospital. It could have killed me. That’s why I always read the drug information that comes with a new prescription before I start popping the pills.

According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

“The U.S. government released data Thursday that for the first time showing how often patients are injured by certain medical errors in hospitals.”

The good news it that it looks like here in St. Louis the hospitals are doing a better than average job of not killing people that they are supposed to be helping, but some of the results are kind of murky. For example, why did the results just focus on eight different types of mistakes and ignore the rest?

The eight that were listed are: “air in the bloodstream, falls, bedsores, infusions with the wrong blood type, urinary tract infections, blood infections, uncontrolled blood-sugar levels and foreign objects left in the body after surgery.”

Two other problems that include a surgeon cutting off the wrong limb or doing the wrong operation on a patient because the records got confused were not shown. The second, and one of the biggest problems in hospitals today, was medication and dosage errors. These kill over a hundred thousand people every year.

But one good thing is that some of this type of information is finally being released to the public. In the past, hospitals have been very reluctant to release this kind of information. Now Medicare has a “compare” website that shows the survival rate of patients in all of the hospitals around the country. You can find it on the website.