By Dr. Mercola
Hospitals are typically thought of as places where lives are saved, but statistics show they’re actually one of the most dangerous places you could possibly enter. Each day, more than 40,000 harmful and/or lethal medical errors occur, placing the patient in a worse situation than what they came in with.
According to a 2013 study, preventable medical errors kill around 440,000 patients each year — more than 10 times the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes. A 2016 study calculated the annual death toll to be around 250,000.
Medical Mistakes Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US
Either way, medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and have been since at least 2000, when the late Dr. Barbara Starfield published her shocking conclusion that doctors kill 225,000 patients each year. Her findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Ironically, Starfield ended up a statistic herself.
She died suddenly in June 2011, a death her husband attributed to the adverse effects of the blood thinner Plavix taken in combination with aspirin. Her death certificate, however, makes no mention of this possibility. Indeed, one of the reasons why many are still surprised by these statistics is due to fundamental flaws in the tracking of medical errors, which has shielded the reality of the situation and kept it out of the public eye.
While there are codes that capture iatrogenic causes of death, published mortality statistics do not take them into account. They only look at the condition that led the individual to seek medical treatment in the first place. As a result, even if a doctor lists medical errors in the death certificate, they are not included in the CDC’s mortality statistics, and without that data, medical mistakes remain a largely hidden problem.
Hospitals Are Hotbeds for Lethal Infections
Hospitals have become particularly notorious for spreading lethal infections. According to 2014 statistics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 25 patients end up with a hospital-acquired infection, and 75,000 people per year die as a result.
Earlier research has suggested as many as 1 in 10 patients will contract a nosocomial infection, defined as an infection contracted within 48 hours of hospital admission, or within three days of discharge, or within 30 days of an operation. Medicare patients appear to be at greatest risk. According to the 2011 Health Grades Hospital Quality in America Study, 1 in 9 Medicare patients developed a hospital-acquired infection.
The video above features the Discovery Channel documentary, “Shocking Medical Mistakes: The Empowered Patient,” originally aired in 2016. In it, medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen investigates medical mistakes and missed diagnoses, including some of her own experiences as a patient, and what you can do to become an empowered patient and reduce your risk when a hospital stay is necessary.
25 Most Shocking Medical Mistakes
As mentioned in the video, medical mistakes occur every single day, and some are more serious than others. Cohen reveals 25 of the most shocking in the following countdown, and how you can protect yourself from becoming a statistic:
Safeguarding Your Care While Hospitalized
Once you’re hospitalized, you’re immediately at risk for medical errors, so one of the best safeguards is to have someone there with you. Dr. Andrew Saul has written an entire book on the issue of safeguarding your health while hospitalized. Frequently, you’re going to be relatively debilitated, especially post-op when you’re under the influence of anesthesia, and you won’t have the opportunity to see the types of processes that are going on. This is particularly important for pediatric patients and the elderly.
It’s important to have a personal advocate present to ask questions and take notes. For every medication given in the hospital, ask questions such as: “What is this medication? What is it for? What’s the dose?” Most people, doctors and nurses included, are more apt to go through that extra step of due diligence to make sure they’re getting it right if they know they’ll be questioned about it.
If someone you know is scheduled for surgery, you can print out the World Health Organization’s surgical safety checklist and implementation manual, which is part of the campaign “Safe Surgery Saves Lives.” The checklist can be downloaded free of charge here. If a loved one is in the hospital, print it out and bring it with you, as this can help you protect your family member or friend from preventable errors in care.
*Article originally appeared at Mercola.
Erin Elizabeth is a long time activist with a passion for the healing arts, working in that arena for a quarter century. Her site HealthNutNews.com is barely 4 years old, but cracked the top 20 Natural Health sites worldwide. She is an author, public speaker, and has recently done some TV and film programs for some of her original work which have attracted international media coverage. Erin was the recipient for the Doctors Who Rock "Truth in Journalism award for 2017. You can get Erin’s free e-book here and also watch a short documentary on how she overcame vaccine injuries, Lyme disease, significant weight gain, and more. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.