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Avoiding Hospital Dangers and Risks

Updated on July 21, 2013
Image Courtesy of Apple's Eyes Studio/
Image Courtesy of Apple's Eyes Studio/

At some time in our lives we will have to visit someone in the hospital or be admitted to a hospital. We often think of hospitals as a place that is clean and sterile. A place where we feel we will get good healthcare and generally we feel safe, but all too often this is not the case. Hospitals can be one of the most dangerous places to be because of the myriad of risks factors.

Medical errors and infections are some of the most common dangers, but by being educated you will be able to protect yourself from these risks. The Center for Disease Control estimates that two million people have contracted a serious infection in a hospital, and approximately 90,000 of those people will die from their infections, which could possibly have been prevented. Staph infections such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), are contracted many times by patients who have open wounds, cuts, abrasions and weakened immune systems. These infections are resistant to some antibiotics. Hospitals have been fighting hard to combat the spread of these infections by using gloves and wearing gowns when interacting with patients. Also, using liquid hand gel soaps and wipes can be effective in reducing the risk of staph infections. Some tips to help prevent the spread of infections are:

1. WASHING YOUR HANDS – This is something so easy to do, and it tends to be one of the reasons infections are spread so easily. Whenever you visit someone in the hospital always wash your hands before and after your visit. If you touch bedrails or anything in the room, you may need to wash your hands several times during your visit. If you are a patient in the hospital, make your visitors and doctors and other hospital personnel wash their hands when entering the room. There is nothing wrong with asking a doctor or nurse to wash their hands. It is better to be called a difficult patient than to catch a deadly infection.

2. DON’T VISIT PATIENTS WHEN YOU ARE SICK – I know this sounds like a ridiculous statement, but I have seen many people go to the hospital to visit patients and they have a slight cold or a little stomach upset. What people sometimes don’t realize is that a little cold could kill someone with a weak immune system, and that little cough could be something more serious than you thought. It is wise to not take the risk of making someone else sick or you becoming sicker by visiting a patient when you are not feeling well, and please don’t bring your sick children either.

3. BRING A FRIEND OR RELATIVE WITH YOU – If you have to go to the hospital for an illness, always bring someone with you. Even if you are going to the Emergency room, because you may not be coherent enough to understand instructions and medication dosages. Having someone with you to write down important information and keep track of your personal belongings is a very good idea. If you are admitted try to have someone staying at the hospital with you at the hospital at all times. It has been shown that patients that have someone with them at the hospital are less likely to experience medical errors than people who are left alone.

4. SPEAK UP AND ASK QUESTIONS – When you are in the hospital, doctors tend to rush through the bedside visit. Keep a notepad by the bed with questions for the doctor. When the doctor visits you, make sure you are clear on what medications you are being given, what procedures you will be having, and any other pertinent questions regarding your hospital stay. This is your health and you have to take control of your healthcare. If you are not comfortable with what the doctor is telling you, then request a second opinion or ask to speak with a hospital advocate that can explain things more clearly. Never be afraid to speak up and ask questions.

Being admitted to the hospital can be a frightening experience because of the uncertainty of what you are about to go through. The least you can do for yourself is be prepared so that you don’t leave the hospital with an illness you didn’t have when you got there.

All hospitals are not created equal. Some are better than others. Below I have listed two different hospital ratings lists for the best hospitals in the country.


(Ranked by patient safety and survival rates)

1. Massachusetts General Hospital – Boston, MA

2. John Hopkins Hospital – Baltimore, MD

3. Mayo Clinic – Rochester, MN

4. Cleveland Clinic – Cleveland OH

5. Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center – Los Angeles, CA

6. Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University – St; Louis, MO

7. New York-Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell – New York, NY

8. Duke University Medical Center – Durham, NC

9. Brigham and Women’s Hospital – Boston, MA

10. UPMC – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center – Pittsburgh, PA


(Ranked by patient safety, hospital-acquired infections, readmissions, communication about new medications and discharge, overuse CT scanning, complications, and mortality)

1. Billings Clinic – Billings, Montana

2. Saint Claire’s Hospital – Weston, WI

3. Alton Memorial Hospital – Alton, IL

4. Central Vermont Medical Center – Berlin, VT

5. Kadlec Medical Center – Richland, WA

6. St. John’s Hospital – Springfield, MO

7. Mayo Clinic Hospital – Phoenix, AZ

8. Northern Michigan Regional Hospital – Petoskey, MI

9. Bon Secours St. Francis Health System – Greenville, SC

10. Memorial Hospital of Union County – Marysville, OH

It might be beneficial for you to look up the rating of your local hospitals or do your own research on the hospitals in your area before you get sick so you are well-informed of the safety of your local hospitals. There are many dangers and risks in hospitals across this country, but educating yourself can prevent you and your family from deadly consequences.



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