Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Common Problems Patients Face in the Hospital

    Understand your hospital risks and ask these vital questions -- to keep those risks in check.
    By
    WebMD Feature

    It's a fact of life: people checking into the hospital face risks. Expecting to get better, some actually wind up getting worse.

    We've all heard the horror stories about hospital risks after surgery. There's the danger of medical complications, like bleeding or infection. Then there are the human errors, like getting the wrong drug or dosage. "Even though you've got a lot of well-trained people in a hospital working very hard, they're still people," says Fran Griffin, RRT, MPA, a director at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass. "And people sometimes make mistakes."

    Recommended Related to DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis)

    Understanding DVT: An Overview

    A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein inside a muscle. Usually it's in a lower leg, thigh, pelvis, or arm. "Typically, a person calls saying, 'I've had 3 or 4 days of swelling in one of my legs, and it won't go down,'" says Terri Remy, MD, of Primary Care Alexandria in Virginia. Symptoms usually include swelling and sometimes pain and tenderness. But you won't always have them.

    Read the Understanding DVT: An Overview article > >

    All these hospital risks can seem far beyond your control. It can leave you feeling pretty helpless.

    But experts say that's not the case. "Patients are just too passive when they check into the hospital," says Peter B. Angood, MD, vice president and chief patient safety officer of the Joint Commission in Oakbridge Terrace, Ill. According to Angood and other experts, taking an active role in your health care can reduce many of these hospital risks. While you might feel out of control when you go into the hospital, you're really not.

    So what can you do to cut your risks? Here's a list of the six top hospital risks and -- more importantly -- what you can do to avoid them.

    Hospital Risk No. 1: Medication Errors

    "Far and away, the most serious hospital risk is a medication error," says Carolyn Clancy, MD, director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in Rockville, Md. "All it takes is for someone to miss a decimal point and you could have a life-threatening mistake."

    A 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine estimated that every year, there are 450,000 injuries resulting from medication errors in hospitals, and perhaps many more that are unreported. What's especially frightening about these hospital risks is they "seem" completely beyond your control. How would you even know what medicines you need, or how much, or how often? How can you stop a doctor's poor handwriting on a prescription from being misread by a pharmacist or nurse?

    But there are things you can do to reduce this hospital risk. Before surgery, you need to make sure that your doctor, your surgeon, and everyone else involved in your care know about every single medicine -- whether prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal supplement -- that you use. To make it easier, you can just stick all of your medicines in a bag and bring them to the hospital.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    No gym workout
    Moves to help control blood sugar.
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    acupuncture needle on shoulder
    10 tips to look and feel good.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    woman biting a big ice cube
    Habits that wreck your teeth.
    pacemaker next to xray
    Treatment options.
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.