How to protect yourself from common medical mistakes (1)

Friday November 9, 2012

If someone was to ask you what you thought the most common causes of death in the U.S. are, what would you say? Car accidents, heart disease, diabetes or cancer? While those certainly do cause many fatalities, there is one other leading cause of death that many people are not aware of: medical mistakes.

In fact, medical errors are responsible for about 250,000 fatalities and countless injuries every year in Connecticut and around the country. These mistakes happen in every medical facility and at the hands of nearly every medical professional. And yet hospital administrators continue to push the problem under the rug by failing to adopt new preventative measures.

Therefore, the task of preventing medical mistakes often remains the duty of patients and their family members. In order to help with this, we will discuss a few of the most common medical errors below and in our next blog post, offering tips about how patients can prevent them from occurring.

The first errors we will discuss have to do with tubes that provide necessary oxygen and medication to patients. Often, when a patient’s chest tube is removed, the hole in his or her chest is not properly sealed, causing air bubbles to get sucked into the bloodstream. If left untreated, these bubbles can cut off blood supply to the patient’s heart, lungs, brain and kidneys. Patients can prevent this error by asking questions about the removal of the chest tube, such as how you should be positioned when the tube comes out.

The other tube-related error occurs when treatment is applied through the wrong tube. For example, chest tubes and feeding tubes often look alike, and medical staff may put medicine that is meant for the stomach tube into the chest tube. Patients can prevent this error by asking nurses and technicians to trace every tube back to its point of origin before administering any treatment.

We will continue this discussion on our next blog post.

Source: CNN, “10 shocking medical mistakes,” John Bonifield, Nov. 5, 2012

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