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How to avoid illness and injury in the hospital


Here in New Jersey, when someone goes into the hospital for a non-life threatening issue, it is common to expect the patient to get better, not get sicker. From time to time, however, patients develop serious infections while in the hospital or even suffer an injury due to a treatment mistake. In some cases, there are things patients can do to avoid suffering an adverse event, but unfortunately doctors and nurses do not always communicate this to patients.

A woman recently wrote a book to provide patients with the information that is necessary to stay as safe as possible while in the hospital. She was inspired to research the topic and write the book of hospital patient safety checklists after both her husband and her father suffered adverse events in the hospital.

Included in the book are a number of tips to avoid additional illness or injury while hospitalized. One, for example, is to keep your hospital bed at a 30-degree angle in order to prevent acquiring pneumonia. Another is to consume high-protein snacks to avoid developing bedsores.

A major problem regarding patient safety is communication, according the author. There are a number of things that can be done to avoid communication issues, including:

  • Have an advocate with you at the hospital, such as a family member or friend. This person can write down various instructions from the doctor, including discharge notes. This person should be encouraged to ask questions and find out details for the patient who, often, is in no condition to do this him- or herself.
  • Take notes yourself, if possible. Jot down your questions as they come up so that you remember them when a doctor or nurse comes by. Also note information about medication and tests.
  • Be polite and humble when making requests or having discussions with doctors or nurses, but stick to your guns.

While these suggestions may help prevent some hospital safety problems, not all incidents can be avoided by the patient. In some cases, medical malpractice, on the part of a physician or the hospital, leads to serious problems. In these cases, it is generally wise to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.