Britton Law, P.A.
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Staying safe during a hospital stay

North Carolina residents who may need hospital treatment in the future may want to be aware of some of the risks associated with spending time in such an environment. Vigilance is important, and having a trusted friend or loved one handy to assist in monitoring treatment and conditions may be helpful in heading off unexpected difficulties. According to estimates, more than 400,000 individuals die in U.S. hospitals annually because of medical errors.

Hospital problems can range from surgical errors to contraction of serious infections. Medical experts indicate that up to 60 wrong-site surgeries happen each week across the nation. As many as 1 million patients in U.S. hospitals fall during their stays each year. Sepsis, blood clots and failures in communication can each contribute to up to 100,000 deaths of U.S. patients over the course of a year.

Patients may take preventive measures by participating actively in pre-surgery screenings and interviews to ensure that the proper site and procedure have been identified by the responsible professionals. A personal advocate may assist by monitoring the actions of those who visit a patient's room and by writing down actions taken and information given. Clear communication about medications is important, and questions should be asked when medications are given. Patients should monitor staff handwashing and other behaviors that could result in exposure to infection. Patients may also evaluate reviews of professionals and facilities prior to agreeing to a procedure or treatment.

In cases involving a medical error, a patient may need assistance in establishing the role of a hospital or staff member in a personal injury. A lawyer may be able to investigate record-keeping issues, charts kept during a visit and other details to assemble a medical malpractice claim. A lawyer may also provide assistance in evaluating settlement offers in such cases.

Source: US News & World Report, "How to Survive Your Hospital Stay", Lisa Esposito, June 03, 2014

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