Become Informed

Become Informed

A safe patient is an informed patient. In health­care, hav­ing the right infor­ma­tion can mean the dif­fer­ence between life and death. What few patients and fam­i­lies know is that med­ical errors and infec­tions in the hos­pi­tal set­ting are the third lead­ing cause of death in the Unit­ed States and Cana­da.  Tak­ing up to 500,000 lives a year, hos­pi­tal harm claims more lives in both coun­tries than strokes, Alzheimer’s, breast can­cer, kid­ney dis­ease and auto­mo­bile acci­dents com­bined.  You’ve heard plen­ty about those caus­es of death over the years.  Chances are you’ve heard very lit­tle about hos­pi­tal harm.  Yet in the U.S., stud­ies have shown that one-in-three patients will face a mis­take dur­ing their hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, which can range from a med­ica­tion error or a fall to a sur­gi­cal blun­der or hospital-acquired infec­tion.  Some of these mis­takes can be cor­rect­ed; some have more last­ing con­se­quences.  Some lead to per­ma­nent dis­abil­i­ty, which was the case with the moth­er of The Center’s founder.  And some lead to death.

Many patients and fam­i­lies we have spo­ken with over the years have expressed the shared feel­ing that if only they had known about the risks of hos­pi­tal harm, they would have been more vig­i­lant, more ques­tion­ing and more engaged.

Many patients and fam­i­lies we have spo­ken with over the years have expressed the shared feel­ing that if only they had known about the risks of hos­pi­tal harm, they would have been more vig­i­lant, more ques­tion­ing and more engaged. Too many fam­i­ly mem­bers have found them­selves haunt­ed by remorse and anger that they were not bet­ter informed and more per­sis­tent in demand­ing the atten­tion a loved one required.  Don’t let you or your fam­i­ly be among them.

Learn about the risks that can face a patient in the hos­pi­tal. Under­stand your rights to be ful­ly engaged in your care or a loved one’s. Know what to do if harm occurs.  Explore the issues on our web­site.  Fol­low the links to rec­om­mend­ed resources and fur­ther read­ing.  View the videos we have col­lect­ed.  Above all, don’t take any­thing for grant­ed.  Being a safe patient, or a care­giv­ing fam­i­ly mem­ber, in a hos­pi­tal today can be a full-time job. Know the toll it can take.  Be pre­pared for the chal­lenge that lies ahead.  

For the most part, our hos­pi­tals are mar­vel­lous places of heal­ing and care.  Just be aware that things can go wrong.  Being informed can help reduce that risk.

»Next:  Become Engaged