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How patients can protect themselves while in the hospital

Hospitals in Arizona and across the country have high standards for patient safety as public reporting and financial incentives for quality patient care help hospitals offer the best care to patients. However, there could be as many as 400,000 premature deaths annually because of mistakes at hospitals that could have been avoided. While hospitals do take many steps to avoid errors, patients can focus on their own safety to help ensure that everything goes correctly while one stays in a hospital.

One might encounter many hospital employees over the course of a hospital stay, and it could be important to know which person is in charge and coordinating one's care. This gives a patient a contact person when something is wrong or when questions arise, and a friend or relative could be able to talk to a hospitalist or primary doctor when a patient is unable. Someone who accompanies a patient can advocate for a patient's safety and wishes when a patient cannot participate for physical or mental reasons.

Around half of an estimated 5 percent of adverse drug events in hospitals are preventable, so a patient should inform physicians about all the medications and supplements that he or she is taking. For the most accurate cataloging of medications and supplements, one can bring the items to the hospital or take photos of each bottle.

While patients can take some steps to look out for themselves, physicians and hospital staff members are trusted to help patients and to perform their jobs properly. When surgical errors or a misdiagnosis occurs because of negligence, a patient may be able to seek compensation from the responsible parties. This is especially important when a medical mistake results in long-term care needs for a patient, and one may wish to consult an attorney when medical malpractice occurs.

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