Speak up and ask questions in order to stay safe

There’s one key tip to make your hospital stay as safe as possible.

How to minimise medical mistakes

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says coronary heart disease is the leading underlying cause of death in Australia, followed by dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Making up the top five are cerebrovascular disease (which includes stroke), lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

In the US, the third leading cause of death, behind cancer and heart disease, according to recent research, is medical mistakes. In Australia, medical mistakes are well down the list, but they do occur.

A report released earlier this year said there were almost 100 medical disasters in Australian hospitals in 2015–16, including surgical procedures on the wrong patient and on the wrong body parts that caused “very serious harm” or death.

It’s likely we will all experience a hospital stay at some stage in our lives, more so as we get older. So what can we do to minimise the risk of a medical mistake?

When it comes to medication, the wrong drug or dosage might cause serious problems. Human error, poor training and poor communication can lead to mistakes. Pay attention and ask questions. Keep a list of your medicines or ask a family member or friend to keep one for you.

Antibiotics attack bacteria, but will have no effect on colds and illnesses caused by viruses. If you take them too often when you don’t need to, they might be ineffective when you do need them. Make sure your doctor is on board and don’t ask for antibiotics if you don’t need them.

It’s no fun being in hospital, but don’t rush home before you’re ready. Studies show that people who go home too quickly, especially after surgery, are more likely to get seriously ill again because of related problems. But you don’t want to stay too long, either. That’s linked to higher rates of infection and other problems.

The wrong surgery, surgery on the wrong person – it happens. It seems obvious, but make sure your healthcare professionals know who you are and why you’re there. It’s one time when being pushy is smart.

Post surgery, tell your doctor if something doesn’t seem right. While it's rare, items have been left inside a patient’s body. Be alert to unexpected severe pain, swelling, fever, nausea and changes in your bowel movements.

Most of us have had blood tests, scans and assorted medical procedures. Don’t assume your doctor’s office will call you if there is a problem. Check back for the results. Human error, bad communication and poor planning can cause delays. And delays can be costly.

When it comes to selecting a hospital – if you are lucky enough to be able to do that – a good resource is the MyHospitals website, a commonwealth department site run by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The institute receives data about every patient treated in an Australian hospital, both public and private. Using that data, you can assess safety and quality, as well as emergency department performances.

In a nutshell, it’s always wise to speak up. If you have questions or concerns, ask. Everyone is busy, but you have the right to question everyone involved in your care.

Have you experienced an avoidable problem during a hospital stay? Are you confident about asking questions of health professionals?

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    COMMENTS

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    pamelawayans
    9th May 2018
    9:51pm
    I have had ASTHMA my whole life but about 7 years ago my asthma got so bad and was diagnosed of EMPHYSEMA/COPD which was most likely due to the asthma. I was on double antibiotics and steroids, still didn't feel any better. My lungs were constantly wheezing in all four chambers, i already used Advair, Spiriva, and Albuterol in my nebulizer, they just didn’t do much. April 2016 my sister in-law told us about Rich Herbs Foundation where she ordered herbs that effectively treated her arthritis. We ordered their COPD herbal treatment after reading alot of positive reviews, i am happy to report this COPD herbal treatment reversed my lungs condition. My quality of life has greatly improved and every one of my symptoms including difficulty breathing and wheezing are gone. Their official web page is ww w. richherbsfoundation. c om. I will be 52 soon and have never been healthier!
    heyyybob
    10th May 2018
    11:38am
    Thanks for posting that :) Doesn't concern me BUT it may help someone else :D Gudonyer.
    jackie
    10th May 2018
    11:23am
    Get rid of cleaning and food supply contractors. They are not cost effective and are bad for patients' health. Spotless gets paid $Billions each year for creating health hazards in places that are meant to be for healing.
    Rosret
    10th May 2018
    12:10pm
    I saw a TED documentary on medical mistakes.
    They advocated medical staff follow regimented procedures like a Pilots checklist.
    Each step is called out load and ticked off the list as completed.
    The person speaking claimed it dropped medical errors by a significant level.
    The key is getting rid of the "God" complex of doctors and accepting they have to follow the rules like everyone else - every time.
    They also had to accept errors happen and if someone on staff says a mistake is about to happen they need to work as a team not as a King with underlings. - In other words - a cultural change.
    patti
    10th May 2018
    3:59pm
    I have no trouble speaking up, and following complications after surgery in February was re-admitted 3 times before I was finally well enough to look after myself. I was being given treatment and drugs that had not been discussed with me. I kept being told "you will have to talk with the doctor.....It took three days for the doctor to actually come and speak with me and in the end I had to make a formal complaint before this happened. Sometimes doctors have tunnel vision, and believe their patients will accept whatever they order. It's hard enough to speak up if you are well but because I was so ill it took a lot of energy. ps. I am fine now......
    Jennie
    10th May 2018
    5:13pm
    Is all very well to say, "but don’t rush home before you’re ready," you have no choice in this. You are told to go. You are told the bed is needed to make you feel guilty. I was sent home too soon after back surgery. I had gastro (due to the catering??) and was very unwell. Also health funds don't want to reimburse you for an extra day. They decide how many days each named surgery should require. The time allowed gets shorter and shorter. God forbid we should get like the US. My doctor daughter tells me that a hysterectomy is considered a day only procedure there, and that women are most likely to bleed during the night following the surgery.
    KB
    11th May 2018
    10:09am
    Unfortunately mistakes do occur particularly with medication. It is a good idea to keep a record of medications for yourself to give the hospital preferably printed and another copy for a family member More importantly for the elderly and disabled
    michellemartin
    17th May 2018
    12:53pm
    I was diagnosed with COPD 5 years ago and was taking Spiriva and Advair plus nose sprays to slow down progression. My symptoms have always been shortness of breath, and dizziness. I am a 54 year old male. the Spiriva wasn’t really working and I could not tolerate them for long due to severe side effects, so this year our family doctor started me on Natural Herbal Gardens COPD Herbal mixture, We ordered their COPD herbal treatment after reading alot of positive reviews, i am happy to report with the help of Natural Herbal Garden natural herbs I have been able to reverse my symptoms using herbs, my symptoms totally declined over a 9 weeks use of the Natural Herbal Gardens COPD natural herbal formula. My COPD is totally reversed! Their official web page is www . naturalherbalgardens . com After the herbal treatment I also finally was able to give up smoking after 20 years. I ‘m thankful to nature
    michellemartin
    17th May 2018
    12:54pm
    I was diagnosed with COPD 5 years ago and was taking Spiriva and Advair plus nose sprays to slow down progression. My symptoms have always been shortness of breath, and dizziness. I am a 54 year old male. the Spiriva wasn’t really working and I could not tolerate them for long due to severe side effects, so this year our family doctor started me on Natural Herbal Gardens COPD Herbal mixture, We ordered their COPD herbal treatment after reading alot of positive reviews, i am happy to report with the help of Natural Herbal Garden natural herbs I have been able to reverse my symptoms using herbs, my symptoms totally declined over a 9 weeks use of the Natural Herbal Gardens COPD natural herbal formula. My COPD is totally reversed! Their official web page is www . naturalherbalgardens . com After the herbal treatment I also finally was able to give up smoking after 20 years. I ‘m thankful to nature


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