Hospitals are Not as Clean or Safe as Patients Think

The Washington Post recently discussed a newly released survey from Consumer Reports, in which twenty eight percent of approximately 731 nurses surveyed nationally reported that hospitals are not as clean and safe as they should be.   The nurses reported lapses in cleanliness, coordination of care, medication administration, and washing of hands. 

Based on those interviews, Consumer Reports put together a checklist of items patients should remember in order to lessen the chances of a problematic hospital stay. Specifically, Consumer Reports cautions patients to:

1.       Research the Hospital – Most people choose a hospital recommended or affiliated with their physician. Others choose the hospital located within their health network. A hospital should be chosen based on its record in treating the condition for which a patient is admitted. Such research is usually available in magazines and online;

2.       Be Your Own Record Keeper- Medication errors kill tens of thousands every year. Most medication errors occur during transitions in a patient’s care, like during admissions and transfers. Keep a list of all your current medications and dosages. Also keep a brief narrative medical history detailing all important past medical issues; 

3.       Don’t be afraid to ask for a patient advocate- chaotic care often leads to mistakes. Most hospitals offer case managers, social workers or a patient advocate. However, the patient must ask for such assistance. Let this individual help coordinate your care;

4.       Stay vigilant – make sure to ask your nurses and care givers to wash their hands before treatment. Also, check dosages of medications before taking them;

5.       Understand Discharge Plans- ask the patient advocate for help if you do not understand the physician’s plan for post discharge follow up care. See your primary care physician within a week of your discharge and bring copies of your hospital records.


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