Consumer Guide to Health Care
Get the Safest Health Care
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Preventing medical errors |
Safety in the hospital |
Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections |
Your role in preventing medical errors
Medical errors are more common than many
people realize. According to a report from the
Institute of Medicine, at least 44,000 and perhaps as many as 98,000 people die in
American hospitals each year from preventable medical
errors. Errors in doctors' offices, pharmacies and
nursing homes add to this toll.
The good news is that as a health care
consumer, you can take steps to prevent medical errors.
The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has
published these guides to help you protect yourself in
different health care settings.
Safety in the hospital
Your role in preventing healthcare-associated infections
As a patient, you can play an important role in preventing infections in the hospital
or other health care settings. Who is at risk of acquiring these infections?
- Surgical patients or any patient with open wounds.
- Patients in intensive care units (ICUs) with central line catheters. (A
central line catheter is a tube that is passed through a vein to end up in the
heart or the large vein returning blood to the heart.)
- Patients on ventilators (machines that help patients breathe).
- All patients in hospitals and nursing homes. These places have the
potential for transmission of Methicillin Resistant Staph aureus (MRSA) from
poor hand hygiene.
- Patients with urinary catheters (tubes placed in the urinary tract).
What can a patient do to help prevent health care associated infections?
Here are two good overviews:
More information to help you prevent these infections.
Medication mistakes can occur for many
reasons. You can help prevent some of these errors by
keeping informed, communicating with your health care
providers and pharmacists, and speaking up about any
questions or concerns you have.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
has a number of helpful guides:
Wisely: Simple tips to follow when taking medications, including questions to ask,
the importance of reading labels, and keeping track of all the medicines you take.
The New OTC Medicine Label:
All over-the-counter medicines now carry usage and warning labels. Learn what's important -
for your health's sake.
Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines
to Children: A checklist of things to know and do before giving OTC medicines to children,
including their weight, allergies, and medicines they are taking. Explains how to use the Drug
Facts label to give medicines safely and avoid side effects.
Problems: Steps to take if you experience a
serious reaction or problem with a drug.
Other useful sites to help you avoid
medication mistakes include:
Information: A comprehensive listing of specific
drugs from the National Institutes of Health.
You can use this site to look up a particular medicine
to find out what conditions the medicine might treat,
precautions to follow when taking the medicine,
possible side effects, and how to store the medicine.
interactions: What you should know: Information
on how the effectiveness of the medicines you are taking can
be affected by other drugs, illnesses you have, and
even some foods and beverages.
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March 15, 2013