Monday, April 25, 2011

Make sure hospital stay doesn’t leave you sicker

Going to the hospital isn’t supposed to make you sicker. But for an alarmingly high number of Americans, it does.

Medical errors occur during as many as one of every three hospital stays, and about 7 percent of those patients die or are permanently harmed as a result, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs.

Health-care facilities bear the bulk of the responsibility for preventing hospital-acquired infections, medication mix-ups and other errors by adhering to evidence-based best practices.

The federal government has stepped up its efforts to prevent errors by refusing to reimburse hospitals for the extra costs associated with certain hospital-acquired conditions and by making public individual hospitals’ rates of these conditions. In addition, the Obama administration announced this month it is working with hospitals and private insurers on a new initiative that aims to cut preventable medical errors by 40 percent over the next three years.

There are also things patients can do to reduce their risk of being the victim a medical error. Here are a few tips from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as well as local and national patient safety groups:

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