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.
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