Williams, Walsh & O'Connor, LLC

How safe are you in the hospital? Despite efforts, errors persist.

A report released in late 2015 by the Department of Public Health shows that Connecticut hospitals are improving in some areas of patient safety. The total number of errors in 2014 decreased 12 percent from 2013. The Connecticut Hospital Association states that the decrease in errors shows that patient safety initiatives are working.

That is good news for patients, but there were certain types of hospital errors that increased in 2014, including:

  • Wrong-site surgeries
  • Performing the wrong surgical procedure on a patient
  • Birth injuries in low-risk pregnancies
  • Reports of sexual abuse/assault on patients or hospital staff
  • Foreign objects left in patients after surgery (lower than in 2013, but twice the number in 2012)

While it is not possible to prevent every hospital error, there are things patients can do to improve their safety during their stay. Consider these tips before going to the hospital:

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't know the medical jargon the staff is using, ask them to explain. It's important that you understand your care.
  • Write things down, including questions you have.
  • Have a family member or friend with you to be your advocate with the staff and help you keep track of medications, procedures, tests, etc.
  • Shift changes increase the risk for hospital errors. Speak up if you feel that the new staff member does not understand your health care needs.

If hospital malpractice results in catastrophic or fatal injuries, speak with a medical malpractice lawyer to learn how to take action. Not every error is medical malpractice, but you won't know whether you have a case until you discuss your experience with an attorney.

Sources: www.courant.com, "Fewer errors reported by hospitals, but concerns remain," Lisa Chedekel, October 29, 2015.

www.consumerreports.org, "The surprising way to stay safe in the hospital," December 2014.

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