When you go to the hospital, you put your life in the hands of the staff there, including doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, etc. It is a tremendous investment of trust, and hospital staff take it very seriously.
Unfortunately, that is not to say that nothing bad ever happens in a hospital. Medical mistakes, iatrogenic infections, and data breaches occur, and when they do, patients can come to harm. Nevertheless, staff and administrators alike continue to work hard to identify and solve potential problems and maintain patients' trust.
What Are Hospitals Doing To Prevent Medical Mistakes?
There are many different types of medical errors. While life science consulting helps to put out safe and effective medications in a timely manner, medication errors can occur due to improper labeling, inappropriate dosing, or out-of-date stock. Surgical errors can involve tools left inside the patient or surgery at the wrong site. Diagnostic errors, in which physicians fail to correctly identify the patient's condition, are fairly common as well.
A big part of avoiding medication errors is involving qualified pharmacists at more points in the process and not leaving the big responsibilities up to assistant technicians. Hospitals and dispensaries have also leveraged the power of technology to set off alerts when a possible dosing error has taken place before the dose is administered to the patient. Surgeons observe the Joint Commission's Universal Protocol for verifying the patient and surgical site prior to every operation and counting all the instruments during to be sure they are all accounted for. Diagnostic errors can be prevented by extra testing to confirm the diagnosis, especially for conditions that are often misdiagnosed.
What Are Hospitals Doing To Prevent Data Breaches?
As a matter of necessity, hospitals must store sensitive information about patients. If the computer system is compromised, bad actors can steal that information, making patients vulnerable to identity theft, doxing, and other internet crimes. Another troubling type of cyberattack against hospitals involves hacking the system and installing malware that makes files and applications inaccessible unless administrators pay the hackers a ransom. With so many health care services computerized, this kind of attack can prevent urgent surgeries from taking place.
Clearly, computer security is vitally important for a hospital. Hospitals can prevent outside attacks by installing software that prevents them from succeeding, such as firewalls and antivirus protections. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a federal law that protects patients' health information by restricting accessibility to those who need to see it. This helps to prevent data breaches from inside the hospital itself.
How Do Hospitals Guard Against Iatrogenic Infections?
Also called a nosocomial infection, an iatrogenic infection is one that occurs as a result of being exposed to pathogens during your treatment at the hospital. People receiving treatment for infectious disease at the hospital can expose others to pathogens, either directly or indirectly.
Doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff observe strict standards of hygiene to prevent iatrogenic infections. They sterilize tools and equipment after every use with hot water, disinfectants, etc. They scrub their hands thoroughly before examining or operating on patients. They wear masks to avoid exhaling pathogens on patients.
What Can Patients Do To Stay Safe?
Patients have a role to play in hospital safety too. While doctors try to be thorough in explaining your condition to you, as well as the risks and benefits of treatment options, sometimes they are not always effective at communicating. If you do not understand your health care options or treatments you are supposed to receive, ask questions. If something seems off to you, trust your instincts and voice your concerns.
When you receive a new medication, ask the pharmacist to explain the instructions for taking it if she or she does not offer to do so. Request written information about possible side effects. If you have medication allergies, it is very important to avoid taking them to prevent a severe reaction. Therefore, you should always ask for a full list of all the ingredients when you fill a new prescription.
You should be an active participant in your own health care. It helps out your doctors, and you receive better care as a result.