Common Problems Patients Face in the Hospital
Understand your hospital risks and ask these vital questions -- to keep those risks in check.
Hospital Risk No. 1: Medication Errors continued...
Then, after surgery, ask questions. When a nurse comes to give you medicine,
ask what it is and why you need it, says Dale Bratzler, DO, MPH, medical
director at the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality in Oklahoma City. Make
sure the nurse checks your ID bracelet against the name on the
"If you ever feel like something's wrong, you have to speak up,"
says Griffin. She's talked to nurses who said that they were about to
administer the wrong medication or dose and were only stopped because the
patient asked them to double-check." Just by saying something, they averted
what could have been very serious medication errors," Griffin says.
Hospital Risk No. 2: MRSA and Other Hospital-Acquired Infections
Another top hospital risk is infection with bacteria or a virus. Hospitals
are loaded with nasty bugs. According to the CDC, there are 1.7 million
health-care-associated infections every year; 22% are infections of surgical
wounds. Even more -- 32% -- are urinary tract infections. The rest are
infections of the lungs, blood, and other parts of the body.
One of the most frightening hospital infections you can pick up is MRSA
(methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) -- a type of staph
infection that's resistant to many antibiotics. A 2007 study by the Association
for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC)suggested that
almost one out of every 20 hospital patients is either infected with MRSA or
"The risk of MRSA is growing," says Clancy. "It's getting more
common and more resistant to antibiotics."
So what can you do? First, ask whether you'll be getting antibiotics before
and after surgery to lower your risk. Then after surgery, the best protection
is simple: don't let people touch you until you have seen them wash their
hands. That goes for everyone -- including doctors and nurses.
Now of course, you might feel intimidated by the idea of scolding your
doctor for his bad hygiene. But experts say that your doctor or nurse shouldn't
have any problem with it -- especially if you ask nicely.