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12 Ways The Health Care System May Be Hurting You

According to an article in the AARP Bulletin, there are 12 different ways the health care system may be hurting you.

We’ve mentioned this statistic in a previous article here:  A study earlier this year by Johns Hopkins University found that more than 250,000 deaths per year by the health system in America.  That makes it the 3rd leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.  Everyone agrees, this is a serious problem.

This AARP article discusses what it calls “the dirty dozen: 12 sources of harm that plague the American Health System.”

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Here they are:

  • WRONG DIAGNOSIS. The doctors simply fail to find out what is really wrong with you.  Statistics say that about 10% of patient deaths are from misdiagnosis; up to 17% in hospitals.
  • SLOPPY PRACTICES. Imagine the horror of finding out that your doctor operated on the wrong part of your body, or amputated the wrong limb.  Fortunately, this does not happen as much anymore with strict safeguards now being implemented.   Still, one study found that up to 45% of patients didn’t receive the recommended care, or the wrong care, for their conditions.
  • DIRTY CONDITIONS. You’d think a hospital would be the cleanest place on earth. Not necessarily so.   While great strides have been made in the area of infection prevention, it’s still a very big problem.
  • POOR COMMUNICATION. Far too often doctors and nurses don’t talk to one another as clearly as they should and, thus, many key factors about a patient’s condition are not recorded.  This is especially prevalent during shift changes.   A doctor quoted in the article remarks, “It’s like walking in during the middle of a play and you haven’t seen the first half.”
  • DISMAL DISCHARGE PLANNING. It’s always great when you are released from the hospital.  Sometimes, though, that’s where trouble starts.  Patients often are given inadequate instructions for at-home treatment.   Or they don’t understand the directives.  A study in 2009 found that 20% of hospitalized Medicare patients were readmitted within 30 days of their discharge.
  • DRUG BLUNDERS. Mix-ups in prescriptions or dosages are among the most common and preventable health care missteps.  A 2015 study found, shockingly, that half of drugs given around and during surgeries involved a mistake of some kind. About 80% of these were preventable.
  • KNOWLEDGE GAPS.  Most reputable doctors continue to update themselves and their associates on the latest medical news.  Hundreds of new guidelines and thousands of clinical studies are published every year.   It is difficult for even the best doctors to keep up.  It’s critical that a patient ask the doctor if their diagnosis and treatment is based on the very latest data.  This is also why it is sometimes wise to get a second opinion.
  • DANGEROUS DOCTORS. We at Theodoros & Rooth have said many times that the vast majority of doctors in this country are responsible and have sincere care for their patients.   Unfortunately, the bad ones out there are the ones we need to be concerned with.  The fact is:  1% of doctors account for about a third of malpractice claims paid.  The attorneys at Theodoros & Rooth have had years of experience dealing with bad doctors who have caused serious injury and even death in their practices.   It is critical for a patient to thoroughly check out the reputation of a doctor, especially prior to a serious procedure.
  • BURIED INFORMATION. When there is suspicion of malpractice, or other irresponsible behavior among doctors and other medical providers and facilities, as examples, many hospitals are hesitant or make it difficult to track down basic information regarding how often harmful procedures have happened at their facility or even how many surgeries a doctor has been involved in.  Traditionally it’s been a culture of deny and defend.   If at all possible, pick a hospital that has implemented electronic medical records.  They are easier to track and that can mean better outcomes for patients.
  • AN OUTPATIENT BLACK HOLE. Almost all of what’s known about medical errors comes from hospitals. By comparison, experts know much less about adverse events taking place in facilities such as private practices, outpatient surgical suites, nursing homes and rehab clinics – even though patients receive most of their care in these types of places.   While many of these facilities are exceptional, some recommend that an individual finds treatment at a place affiliated with a major medical center where records might be much more accessible and more carefully kept.
  • SMALL THINKING. Sometimes, even though a medical facility realizes that safety must be built into their systems, health care hasn’t done a good enough job, according to this article.  It is imperative that a patient looks for a safe hospital.  Even such things as recognizing a hospital cafeteria that pays attention to food allergies is a very positive sign.  Things like this can reflect on the entire hospital and their attention to overall care.
  • CLINICIAN BURNOUT. As we mentioned earlier, if the faults of the American health system was a disease, it would be the 3rd leading cause of death. While there are many reasons for this, many of which we have discussed here, it is known that medical providers and staff work longer hours these days, take care of more patients, and there is evidence that treatment is rushed because hospital stays are shorter.  A 2015 study by the Mayo Clinic found that 54% of doctors had one or more symptoms of burnout – and, thus, more mistakes are made by a doctor, nurse or other staffer simply because they are tired.

To read this entire article online, you can go to the link below.

http://pubs.aarp.org/aarpbulletin/201609_IN?sub_id=CXjqqfD6dUoxR&lm=1473128964000&pg=19#pg19

At Theodoros & Rooth, the safety of people who deal with medical providers is of the upmost importance.  As we always say, most providers are good people with keen attention to care and the finest medical treatment possible.   Sadly, that’s not always the case.  If you believe you have been mistreated by a doctor, a member of a hospital staff or anyone else involved in your case, call us at Theodoros & Rooth immediately.   We have the experience you need and the compassion you deserve.  There is never a charge for a consultation and you pay nothing until your case is successfully resolved.