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Common errors that a patient might face when hospitalized

People in Illinois who enter a hospital do so seeking care for illness or injury. Unfortunately, the reality is that a large number of mistakes are made making people sicker or even leading to their deaths. Every year, as many as 440,000 people die after a hospital error. This is the third highest cause of death in the U.S. In addition, more than 720,000 people receive a hospital-related infection. Of those, an estimated 75,000 die. Understanding the various ways in which a hospital mistake can lead to problems can help patients recognize when they have happened.

It is not unusual for a patient to fall while in the hospital. About one million people who have been hospitalized in America fall on an annual basis. One-third of these falls are believed to be preventable. With a fall, the victim can have internal injuries, broken bones or other after effects. In addition to falls, antibiotics are used to help patients get better, but as many as half of the antibiotics administered are either not necessary or are the wrong ones for the particular patient. If these drugs are used to excess, they can help spur bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and therefore difficult to treat. Furthermore, a dangerous hospital infection can cause people to grow ill and die.

Medication errors are also quite common. Patients are given the wrong dosage of their medicine in as many as half the surgeries that are performed. Every day, it is estimated that 1,000 medication errors happen in hospitals. Given the number of staff members involved in dispensing medication, it is inevitable that mistakes will happen. Also, patients might be left in bed for too long. This can cause a multitude of problems such as the patient becoming weak and being more susceptible to a fall. Finally, as many as 20 percent of patients are back in the hospital within one month of having been discharged. Some cases are due to medical problems that had nothing to do with the hospital. Others are because of infections or other problems that came up while the patient was hospitalized.

When a patient is the victim of a medical mistake, it could be due to a negligent doctor or for numerous other reasons. Those who have been affected might face major medical costs or a loved one dying. When there is a missed diagnosis or other mistake, the person or the family affected needs to understand how to move forward with a lawsuit with help from an experienced attorney.

Source: Consumer Reports, "5 Common Medical Mistakes to Avoid in the Hospital," Hallie Levine, April 10, 2016

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