I don’t know too many people who would choose to be admitted into hospital unless their health necessitated it. Most hospital rooms / wards do not carry a rating similar to the Hilton Hotel or the Ritz. They are for practical purposes, a place where sick people can receive the medical attention they require to help them recover their health, or be made comfortable, until they are moved onto other services – nursing homes – care facilities – and sadly in some cases mortuaries.
The nursing staff according to Wikipedia: (are) healthcare profession(als) focused on the care of individuals, families, and communities so they may attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life from conception to death.
From my own observations over a long period of time as a patient in hospital settings, nursing is more than a nine to five job, it is a ‘calling’ that requires more than emptying bedpans, changing sheets and handing out prescribed medications. I would even go so far as to suggest it takes a person of extraordinary talent and sensitivity to become a nurse.
I was rather startled to read in Yesterday’s Seattle Times Health section that: Hospitals may be even more dangerous than previously suspected. One out of every three people admitted suffers a medication mix-up, a fall, a bed sore, or another problem related to the way care is delivered, according to research published in April in the health policy journal Health Affairs.
When you consider that (in my estimation) people only go to hospital because they need care and medical attention they cannot either provide themselves, or is of such a serious nature – a trained medical professional is necessary, you would hope that the ‘hospital experience’ was a life saving event, and not a time when further illness or damage would occur through medical neglect.
I acknowledge that nursing staff are overworked and under paid in many cases, but this article suggested it is YOU the patient who needs to be an active participant in their own care to ensure health and safety.
That works for some people, those who have full mental faculties, who are not drugged or sedated, who are not too ill to communicate with the staff supervising their medical care.
….a large body of evidence suggests that safety issues are widespread and of special relevance to seniors, who tend to be sicker and more vulnerable than other patients.
Notably, last November the Department of Health and Human Services reported that every year 134,000 older hospital patients (about 1 in 7) experience problems such as excessive bleeding, drug-related delirium, infections and more.
This occurrence is known technically as IATROGENIC – meaning: Due to the action of a physician or a therapy the doctor prescribed. An iatrogenic disease may be inadvertently caused by a physician or surgeon or by a medical or surgical treatment or a diagnostic procedure. Puerperal fever (childbirth fever) was an iatrogenic infection; it was carried from one woman to another by the doctor before the days of antisepsis. If in the course of a procedure, an artery is nicked and bleeds, that is an iatrogenic accident.
It also means prescribing the wrong drug, or the wrong treatment, or even prescribing a tried and tested treatment which goes horribly wrong. We are not all a ‘one size fit’, so what works well for one patient may go horribly wrong for another. And then sometimes a doctor may just refuse to listen to a patient when they tell them that a particular drug/medication is not suitable for them.
I am still amazed at how many doctors do not recognise that Aspirin is Salicylic Acid (Salicylic acid, the main metabolite of aspirin). I wear a medical alert bracelet due to multiple chemical sensitivities. Aspirin is listed quite clearly, yet I can guarantee you that just about every admission into hospital, I am given Aspirin to take. I have to be my own advocate and explain that this is poison to me. What would happen if I were unconscious on admission?
Most of the information found on the internet about iatrogenic injury seems to relate to statistics gathered from the USA and Canada – as in the previously mentioned Seattle Times Article. But I can guarantee you it happens with almost as much frequency in Australia and New Zealand.
Official Australian government reports reveal that preventable medical error in hospitals is responsible for 11% of all deaths in Australia.(1, 2), which is about 1 of every 9 deaths. If deaths from properly researched, properly registered, properly prescribed and properly used drugs were added along with preventable deaths due to private practice it comes to a staggering 19%, which is almost 1 of every 5 deaths.
New Zealand figures are very similar.
According to Mr. Law: “Put another way, the equivalent of New Zealand’s second largest city (Christchurch) has been killed by preventable medical error and deaths from properly researched, properly registered, properly prescribed and properly used drugs in Australasia in the past decade and its biggest city Auckland either killed or permanently maimed.
Put another way, more than 5 million people have been killed by Western medical practice in the past decade (Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, and NZ) and 20 million killed or permanently maimed.
Sounds like a war zone, doesn’t it?
Put another way, the economic impact of deaths due to preventable medical error and deaths from properly researched, properly registered, properly prescribed and properly used drugs is approximately $1 trillion over the past decade.
He notes that only 0.3% of these deaths are properly coded and classified in official statistics as being attributed to these causes.
(In plain English what I understand that last sentence to mean is that doctors do not always correctly report their errors!)
So what is the answer? How can this be fixed?
An excellent question, and one to which I see no immediate answer, other than stay out of the hospital system unless it cannot be avoided – as a matter of life or death.
If being over medicated, taking a fall, developing bed sores, receiving the wrong operation or drug does not ‘get you’ then you surely run the risk of developing a hospital acquired infection such as: Staphylococcus aureus – often called ‘golden staph’ or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Resistant Enterococcus – also referred to as vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE). These are the more serious hospital acquired infections.
I believe Emergency Medicine saves lives. Have a motor vehicle accident, a heart attack, a stroke, a ruptured blood vessel etc., and YOU WANT the expertise of the Emergency Room Team ASAP! Otherwise look into healthy life style changes so that you do not end up resorting to what could be termed as ‘reactive medicine’, and stay out of hospitals!
The above information from the USA and Australasia about the number of hospital accidents (iatrogenic) to patients is very worrisome. Maybe we should take heart from the words of some of the past notables, and their thoughts on medicine.
Before undergoing a surgical operation,
arrange your temporal affairs.
You may live.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
American newspaperman and short-story writer
Medicine is a collection of uncertain prescriptions,
the results of which, taken collectively,
are more fatal than useful to mankind.
Napoleon I (1769-1821)
Napoleon Bonaparte. French general.
Some remedies are worse than the disease.
Publilius Syrus (1st Centry BC-?) Roman writer and poet.
He who lives by medical prescriptions lives miserably.
Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which
they know little, to cure diseases of which they
know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing.
French writer and historian.
The superior doctor prevents sickness;
The mediocre doctor attends to impending sickness;
The inferior doctor treats actual sickness;
Cure the disease and kill the patient.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
British statesman and philosopher.
Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next
world than even we generals.
Napoleon I (1769-1821)
Napoleon Bonaparte. French general.