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Trisha Torrey

Hospitals and Their Dirty Little Secrets

By May 23, 2013

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Just a heads up today on an informative, well-developed, interactive presentation put together by a combination of Frontline and Pro Publica...

Called Hazardous Hospitals, it's part video, part resource piece that allows you to learn about the (at least) six ways your assumptions about hospitals are probably untrue, with additional links to supporting information.

It begins with, "Warning: Your Hospital May Be Hazardous to Your Health". From there it goes through why hospitals aren't safe places, (where it also shares personal stories that will break your heart), the fact that hospitals don't share information (which means they can't learn from each other on what works and what doesn't), denial and more. It's a great overview of why we must know what to expect and then plan to protect ourselves while in the hospital.

Finally, the piece called "By the Numbers" at the end of the presentation is truly upsetting. Statements about what percentage of hospital workers are afraid to speak up when they observe something that can harm a patient, ranging to how often safety violations are ignored and how many believe that "management is only interested in patient safety when something goes wrong."

Keep in mind that these are the hospitals were YOU and I go for care. My overall impression is that it might be safer to stand in the center of the interstate highway than to spend any time in a hospital.

Watch Hazardous Hospitals and interact with it. It won't take you more than 10 minutes. The awareness you gain may save your life. (The producers suggest you use either a Chrome or Safari browser, although I used Firefox and it worked just fine.)

Then, when you're ready to learn how to protect yourself, give some of these articles a try:

A Safe Surgery Guide for Patients

The Patient's Guide to Hospital Acquired Infections

Prescription Drug Errors Take Lives

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Agree? Disagree?
Share your experience or join the conversation!


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Photo 123RF.com

May 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm
(1) Christina deMoraes says:

Great video, thanks for sharing!! Sad to think we are considered the standard that the rest of the world should attain or strive for!! =( Seriously??

May 23, 2013 at 3:27 pm
(2) David E. Williams says:

I have had some miserable and even terrifying experiences in hospitals, but my big complaint has to do with a surgeon who did the wrong operation.

Your questionaire addresses hospital problems as if anything bad that happens in a hospital is the hospital’s fault.

In my experience surgeons operate as – and in fact are – independent outside contractors. In my case the blame was clear, but in other cases how can a patient tell who is to blame?

May 24, 2013 at 1:38 am
(3) Claudia says:

Nothing especially new here…. The curious part is why those who are healthy — and even those who are contemplating hospitalization — don’t want to hear this information. How can this be “spun” so that it gets people’s attention? After all, the label “death panels” killed (ahem) the benign plan to compensate doctors by spending some time with their patients to discuss EOL care.

Do we need some of that spin to shake healthcare consumers out of their placidity?

May 24, 2013 at 5:52 am
(4) Trisha Torrey says:

I’ve said for many years that trying to get patients to understand and take action is a lot like selling life insurance. No one thinks they need it until it’s too late – or almost too late – to participate.

Unfortunately, most believe that problems in hospitals, or wrong site surgery, or any other medical error – are just like auto accidents. They only happen to other people.

Frustrating, but true.

I also believe we need a “poster child” – someone prominent who dies from a medical error where the medical error itself becomes public and people begin to pay attention. Like Angelina Jolie has done for genetic testing and prophylactic breast removal.

Until then, all we can do is be here when someone needs us, and try to help them slog through the system as best, and safely, as they can.

And hire patient advocates to help them when they, like millions of others, haven’t learned those patient empowerment lessons that might have helped them.

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