Each year, more than 90,000 hospital patients die from medical errors. An equal number die from hospital-acquired infections. The non-profit Institute for Healthcare Improvement estimates that over 40,000 patients per day suffer medical harm. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your risk of hospital-related illness and injury.

  • Don’t be afraid to speak up. Many people are intimidated by their doctors and nurses. Remember, doctors and nurses are human and they make mistakes. You should never feel like you can’t bring up your concerns.
  • Educate yourself. Research your medical condition. The Mayo Clinic website is a good place to start. Ask your doctor for other resources. Knowing about your health conditions will help you ask smart questions.
  • Get the details. Ask your doctor to explain the surgery. You should know what will happen, what the risks are, and who will be administering the anesthesia.
  • Bring your health records. Keep a notebook with your family health history, your own hospitalizations and surgeries, your medical conditions, medications, and allergies. Update it when something changes. This will allow you to easily access the information when you are admitted.
  • Fill out forms completely. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
  • Be honest about your health. Don’t be afraid to tell the doctor about recreational drug use or drinking habits.
  • Bring a friend or family member who can act as your advocate. Your advocate should familiar with your medical condition and treatment plan. This person should also know whether you have signed a living will, organ donation form, or do-not-resuscitate order.
  • Ask your doctor to mark the area that will be operated on. He should put his initials on the site.
  • Check your medications. Always ask about the medications that you are given. The nurse should always check your identity before giving you medicine.
  • Ask visitors to wash their hands. Nurses, doctors, and caregivers should also wash their hands when they enter your room. Don’t be afraid to ask a caregiver if his hands are clean.
  • Make sure that you understand your discharge instructions. Know which medications you should take, if there are any restrictions on your activity, and where you should go for your follow-up visit. Know what complications you should watch for and who to call if you need help.

We hope that your hospital stay goes according to plan. If there are problems, Hupy and Abraham is here to help you get accountability. To learn more about medical malpractice claims and your rights as a Wisconsin hospital patient, please contact our office at 800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
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Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham