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View Full Version : How not to be killed in hospital



eve
May 12th, 2006, 03:44 AM
If you're booked into hospital and don't want to come out with a skin rash, a bag of the wrong drugs, and someone else's heart in your chest, follow these tips:

Ask your doctor to send you a hospital with a good reputation for that type of operation or treatment. (There are no statistics available to enable you to compare one hospital with another, but your doctor may have some experiences with particular hospitals.)

In hospital, ask health workers if they've washed their hands before touching you. Itís an important way to prevent the spread of infections in hospitals.

If youíre having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree and are clear on exactly what will be done. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests its members sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery.

Find out as much as you can about your condition and treatments as you can. If you have questions or issues, speak up. Tell all the health professionals involved in your care everything you can about your health. Tell the surgeon, anaesthetist, and nurses if you have allergies or have ever had a bad reaction to anaesthesia. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about the medicines that you take, including over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements like vitamins and herbs.

If you're not good at demanding things, get a family member or friend to be there as your advocate.

More info at http://www.abc.net.au/health/thepulse/s1635777.htm

herbwormwood
May 12th, 2006, 06:19 PM
Also if you are just going for an outpatients appointment, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly when you get home.
As for operations, don't have them if you can avoid it. Check whether there are any alternatives. I know someone who was told she would need spinal surgery. She went to a chiropractor instead and ended up not needing surgery.
Many conditions which could put us in hospital are caused by medications! So don't take them if you can avoid it.

tipsy
May 12th, 2006, 09:01 PM
while these mistakes you mention eve do happen, it is very rare. especially in a hospital in the US today. (im not sure of other countries.)

its just that when these mistakes do happen, they are very well publicized and everyone hears about it. nobody hears about the millions of people every year that are hospitalized and discharged without incident.

i personally work in surgery, and i know that certain things like checking surgical site, patient name & info, and allergies are cecked, double checked and triple checked by every professional who they come in contact with. it is customary for the patient to mark his or her own surgical site, especially if it is a limb or something that has a right and left appendage or side.

and this is not just the hospital i work in now. i have been in 6 different hospitals in the past 4 years in three different (US) states.

that said, i personally do not agree with much of western medicinal practices, and agree that some drugs can make you sicker than you already were. but i feel that the title of this thread is a bit presumptious.

very few people who go into a hospital healthy dont make it out.

seviya
May 12th, 2006, 09:21 PM
With all due respect to the British, I fear that hospital/care problems occur much less frequently in the US than across the pond. When I lived in the UK, there'd be something in The Sun at least once a week detailing some hospital horror or another. It is very rare when american patients develop maggots in their wounds! Or find pee in the corners of their rooms! And they certainly never have to be routinely bumped off waiting lists for both necessary and elective surgeries. Of course, the devil gets the best tunes, so The Sun certainly shouldn't be my only source of information, and my experiences working in a Healthcare Centre in Northern Ireland wasn't exactly representative, but it's still kindof hard to ignore . . .

The thing is - and my English husband feels the same - the US puts so much more money into healthcare than education. Being in law school, I'm almost certain it has to do with liability - if a nurse forgets to wash her hands and gives you some superbug (like what was going around the UK in 2004), that doctor and nurse can be sued something fierce. I mean, fierce. So it's drilled into everyone - every time you pass a sink at work, wash your hands. Lawsuits can be a very effective deterrant, sometimes.

Conversely, in the UK (I don't know about Australia, though I'd be interested to find out), I don't think you can sue your doctors - at least, I've never heard of it. Also, so much more money is spent on education than healthcare. For instance, UK teachers/lecturers make on average 4X what American ones do. Starting salary for teachers here in Duval County is $27,000. Starting salary for american nurses is $85,000, plus $20,000 sign-on bonus - and that figure is rising, due to "shortage".

Doctors in the US routinely make well over $350,000, because it's the patients paying them, not the government. Doctors in the UK make the american-dollar equivalent of $50,000 - $60,000.

It is interesting to watch the consequences of both our countries' choices . . .

tabitha
May 12th, 2006, 09:37 PM
Oh dear. Im under the knife on Thursday *pales*:( I think I might have to perform my own surgery *gets gloves ready*.

Cloudy
May 12th, 2006, 09:39 PM
You'll be fine, for every horror story you hear there's a load of operations that have gone smoothly :)

tabitha
May 12th, 2006, 09:41 PM
*shakes in the corner and wont come out*.

eve
May 13th, 2006, 08:43 AM
As far as I can remember from a fairly recent report, there are THOUSANDS of deaths each year in the US, and in the UK, and in Australia - all from either wrong medication, wrong dosage, negligence, etc - not dying from whatever sickness. In the State where I live in Australia, there were cases of deaths from negligence by a doctor who was here for several years from the US. He is now back in the US, avoiding murder charges. A nurse was the whistle blower. However, a nurse friend of mine thought it was blown up out of proportion because these sorts of deaths happen all the time! So jjdaiquiri, these mistakes are not all that rare. Just stay out of hospital if poss. Good luck tabitha, we'll all send you good vibes. :)

tabitha
May 13th, 2006, 09:33 AM
I am quite confident actually Eve. I have a wonderful surgeon who reconstructs peoples breasts etc., after cancer. I will be on the plastic surgery ward so I can see all the weird things people have had done I guess. I will be in a private ward and am taking antiseptic wipes and my own towels etc. but at least I will be the only one using the loo etc.:)

herbwormwood
May 13th, 2006, 01:44 PM
Conversely, in the UK (I don't know about Australia, though I'd be interested to find out), I don't think you can sue your doctors - at least, I've never heard of it. Also, so much more money is spent on education than healthcare. For instance, UK teachers/lecturers make on average 4X what American ones do. Starting salary for teachers here in Duval County is $27,000. Starting salary for american nurses is $85,000, plus $20,000 sign-on bonus - and that figure is rising, due to "shortage".

Doctors in the US routinely make well over $350,000, because it's the patients paying them, not the government. Doctors in the UK make the american-dollar equivalent of $50,000 - $60,000.

It is interesting to watch the consequences of both our countries' choices . . .

We can sue our doctors but not many people do it. As for the amount of money spent on health care and education, most people here use the national health service which is funded from general taxation. And most people here send thir children to schools which are state funded through general taxation. But I think this will be changing if the current government has its way. At the moment most new schools and hosptals are built with private finance (which the taxpayer pays back at huge costs). See the UK politics thread for more details.
So its difficult to compare the UK and the US system in terms of funding.
And I hope you don't mind me pointing out that my country did not choose this direction, the current Blair Goverment and the previous Thatcher/Major Govermment chose it. The majority of the British people would prefer we have a fully functioning state funded (not private) health and education system. Most people I know who have used private health care have done so because the state system failed them or did not meet their needs and they felt going private was the only choice they had.

Ara
May 13th, 2006, 02:06 PM
As far as I can remember from a fairly recent report, there are THOUSANDS of deaths each year in the US, and in the UK, and in Australia - all from either wrong medication, wrong dosage, negligence, etc - not dying from whatever sickness.
It's true, my Father died a few months ago due to negligence in our hospital, he went in with suspected pneumonia but in the end it was only a fever, he was in a couple of days and the day before he was due to come home one of the nurses thought he was dehydrated when he wasn't and so put him on a drip and flooded him with fluid he didn't need, he went into heart failure because of it. The standard of care he was given was appaling, the nurses didn't care, they didn't feed him (he couldn't feed himself by this point) so we had to go in every meal time to make sure that he was getting his food, they were rude and abusive towards him when they thought that we weren't around (we arrived just as they were yelling at him and calling him a 'stupid old man'), they didn't take care of his personal hygiene, they didn't administer his eyedrops that he came into hospital with that again was all left up to us and above all, what angered me most is that we had asked to be called, anytime of day or night, if his condition worsend and they didn't. So when my Mother went in to feed him his breakfast one morning she found him dead - they had not noticed he had died!!!! The level of neglect in the hospital was so awful, it makes me so angry.

Plus about 9 years prior to that my Dad went in to our other local hospital have half of his toe removed - it got infected and they didn't notice and wouldn't believe Mum when she tried to tell them (she's a nurse herself), the infection knocked him sideways and he went completley doolally, they just told us he was a senile old man! Which wasn't true, as he was still working happily as a civil engineer due to start overseeing the building of the milenium dome (when we told them this they actually took notice of the fact that he wasn't some crasy old man and started to do something). The infection had spread so far by this time that he had to have his leg amuptated. We would have sued, but after thinking that she would loose my Dad it was the last thing on Mum's mind!

Arrrgh sorry for this rant but the whole situation makes me so angry. People in hospitals don't seem to care anymore, they aren't taught the basics of what to nurse is (this is a generalisation, i realise that not all nurses are like this, there are some wonderful ones out there). It isn't about poncing around in your uniform adminestering drugs and injections, it's about nursing on a basic level, making sure that the patients are well and comfortable, dealing with the less desirable bodily fluids etc etc, but most of the young ones traning don't seem to understand this. I've had a few friends myself train to be nurses and complain all day and night that they've had to clean up people's poo etc. Get on with it, I deal with it in my job (care assistant, a lesser form of nurse lol) and it doesn't bother me at all, all i care is that the patients are comfortable and given the best of the remainder of the life they have left.

Sorry if this has gone off topic or anything :s

eve
May 14th, 2006, 09:02 AM
Hello Ara, so sorry your family has suffered such appalling events; it is worse than frustrating when things go wrong. I've had good and bad experiences, but just hope that I don't have to go in to another hospital.

seviya, as for suing in Australia, it may vary between States, but here in Queensland there are people suing doctors for negligence.

herbwormwood
May 14th, 2006, 12:07 PM
It's true, my Father died a few months ago due to negligence in our hospital, he went in with suspected pneumonia but in the end it was only a fever,

Sorry if this has gone off topic or anything :s
It is not off topic and I don't think we would mind if it was.
I am very sorry for your loss and I am sure we here on VF all send our sympathy.
I have been in The Freeman Hospital, Newcastle (lets start naming the hospitals where we see bad practice), and found a lady who had gone in for straightforward operation and contracted MRSA. Once patients have MRSA the hospital won't let them go home and keep them in an isolation room (funny I could still talk to her through the open door). She had been there 3 months when I met her. On another occasion the woman in the next bed to me was found to have MRSA. She was taken away and put in a private room and the cleaners came in, and the lab technicians came roun and took samples from everyone in the ward to see if we had contracted it.

Hemlock
May 14th, 2006, 12:54 PM
I've had surgery 6 times in my life Tabitha and have been fine all 6 times, never got anything nasty and woke up from anaesthesia feeling ok. My trick is to ask them to give me painkilling drugs BEFORE waking up and then you feel just fine.

The only time I was in trouble was with my appendix when I was 7 or 8 in the 1960's. It burst before I got to the hospital and I had peritonitis and blood poisoning, they did not think that I would survive but I did and none of that was any fault of the hospital. Got a really big scar though from being opened up so far:(

tabitha
May 14th, 2006, 12:58 PM
Thank you Hemlock! I must admit this thread has a morbid fascination for me. I dont want to look on it....but then I do it anyway and get worried. The night before I had my hyterectomy, I switched on the tv. There used to be an Operations Channel on Sky. I said to my husband "wouldnt it be funny if they were showing a hysterectomy hahah!".....and they flipping were!! I watched the operation all the way through. It was fascinating but revolting. My husband was sick and had to go to bed, but I kept on looking, thinking...thats gonna be me in the morning:D:D

Hemlock
May 14th, 2006, 01:09 PM
it's like when you go on a plane, you can guarantee there will be a film on the night before about a plane disaster:D