The Scary Truth About Hospital Stays

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Up to 400,000 people are killed each year due to preventable medical errors.  

A new study recently released by the Journal of Patient Safety indicates that between 210,000 and 400,000 hospital patients each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death. This new study estimates preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease (1st) and cancer (2nd).

 $765,000,000,000, or 30% of all U.S. healthcare costs, each year is wasted.

 A 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) study, “The Healthcare Imperative:  Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes,” indicated that of the $2.5 trillion spent on domestic healthcare costs in 2009, $765 billion (or 30%) was attributable to preventable costs.  These costs include fraud, unnecessary services, inefficiently delivered services, and excessive administration costs.  At the current growth rate, healthcare costs are expected to skyrocket to an unsustainable $4.5 trillion in 2019.

Waking Up During Surgery

You probably have heard of urban myths wherein a patient undergoing surgical procedures suddenly wakes up and feels the pain of being sliced open by cold, steely knives. Turns out, these aren’t legends at all and, in fact, happens quite a lot more than we want it to – which is never.

Such a phenomenon is called anaesthesia awareness, and it may happen when a certain administrative chemical that’s supposed to put you to sleep during the operation somehow doesn’t do its job, which is usually the fault of someone else who didn’t do his job properly.

Statistics indicate that this horrific incident occur .02 percent of the time, but studies show that it can go up to ten times this value. That’s a whopping 2 percent! That may sound insignificant at first, but once you take into account the thousands upon thousands of people who undergo medical surgeries, then the gravity of it all starts to loom in!

Now, there are cases and testimonies from countless people who have fallen victim to anaesthesia awareness, and a great deal of them say it was an excruciatingly painful ordeal. There are also a number of people who say that though they did not feel any pain, it was still a horrific experience to numbly feel their bodies being operated on. Of course there’s also this one case wherein a woman woke up only to realize that her eyes were being detached from her face. Yikes.

33% of hospital patients suffer some form of preventable harm during their hospital stay.  

A 2012 IOM study, entitled “Best Care at Lower Cost,” reported that 1/3 of hospital patients experienced some form of Hospital Acquired Conditions (HACs), ranging from minor injuries to death.  Put that in the context of another consumer product.  If your iPhone gave you a harmful shock one out of every three times that you checked your e-mail, would Apple stay in business?

Super Bugs

You may not believe in super heroes but you better start believing in super bugs! Now, what exactly is a super bug? It’s bacteria on steroids! A good fact about these super bugs is that they have evolved from being weak microbes into powerful forces of evil that cannot be killed by antibiotics or anti-bacterial cleaning materials.

You know what the “best” part about these little devils is? Hospital rooms are their breeding grounds! Hooray! If you’re confined right now or are scheduled to be soon, why not bring a microscope and be on the lookout for any of these super bugs. Just be careful because once they latch on to you, your next stop will be your funeral!

Reports indicate that these super bugs are the cause of deaths that should not have happened, and all victims caught it from inside the very place they sought to be cured. A shocking 1.7 million infections are acquired inside hospitals and 100,000 deaths occur yearly because these super bugs spread all over hospitals fast.

This is because most of these powerful bacteria cling on clothes and cleaning wipes. A good solution for medical institutions would be to use only one medical wipe per room. But of course that would mean more expenses and less profit, so case closed.

58% of clinicians felt unsafe about speaking up about a problem they observed or were unable to get others to listen.  

This statistic first appeared in a 2005 report by VitalSmarts and the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) called “Silence Kills.”  The report also found that “84 percent of doctors observed colleagues who took dangerous shortcuts when caring for patients and 88 percent worked with people who showed poor clinical judgment.” These stats are startling in and of themselves, but the most worrisome item in the report was that, “despite the risks to patients, less than 10 percent of physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff directly confronted their colleagues about their concerns.”

Medical Errors

Did you know that your chances of dying inside a hospital because of a medical error is higher than your chances of dying from an airplane crash? It’s pretty silly actually, how the professionals that we entrust our health care with are just sometimes too chill about it. Of course we cannot generalize all medical personnel; however, it is a fact that 1 in 10 patients die from an error. So if you’re admitted to the hospital anytime soon, you better wish luck is on your side.

Critical care patients each experience nearly 2 medical errors per day.  

According to a 1995 article from the Journal of Critical Care Medicine, intensive care unit (ICU) patients experienced, on average, 1.7 medical errors per day.   The study concluded that the main reason for the errors was significant communication failure between clinicians.  While the study is one of the older ones cited in this column, most clinicians believe that this disturbing statistic is still valid today.

92% of U.S. physicians admitted to making some medical decisions based on avoiding lawsuits, as opposed to the best interest of their patients.  

This startling statistic came from a 2010 Jackson Healthcare study on defensive medicine.  The study also found that clinicians from other countries, including New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Sweden did not report any ordering of unnecessary tests, treatments, or consultations to avoid lawsuits.

Surgeries can set you on fire, literally

Are you staying in at a hospital for your scheduled surgery tomorrow? Here’s a fact that will help you sleep well tonight! Did you know that your intestines can combust whilst you are helplessly asleep on the operating table as the doctors and nurses watch in awesome bewilderment? Of course you didn’t but now you do!

A 2003 research reported that an estimated 100 surgical patients are set on fire each year. What most people aren’t aware of is the fact that our bodies are filled with highly combustible chemicals during operation such as alcohol-based cleaning solutions.

Imagine for example you are lying there unconscious and the doctor is about finished cleaning up your insides with combustible materials and you suddenly fall into cardiac arrest, establishing the need of a defibrillator. It’s an open ended story so you decide how it goes from there.  The good news is that very few victims actually die from this accident, which is around 1 to 2 percent.

You can go insane inside a hospital without any warning – just like that

It’s called hospital delirium, and it’s bad – really bad. It may not be your ailing heart or your drug overdose that kills you after all, but a sudden unexplainable surge of madness!

Take the case of Justin Kuplan for example. Kuplan is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian so we will conclude that he is a very smart, very sane guy. Hospitalized in 2009 with a case of pneumonia, Kaplan started seeing visions of monsters taking over the entire hospital’s crew and everyone else in it by turning them into zombies!

He took down the nurse attending to him, threatened to exterminate his wife and almost died from blood loss. The frenzy lasted for a few hours and is still unresolved to this day. On a lighter note, although this sounds really terrible, hospital delirium cases are an extreme rarity according to someone supposedly sane.

More Scary Hospital Stats

  • Millions of people die each year from medical errors and infections linked to health care, and going into hospital is far riskier than flying
  • If you were admitted to hospital tomorrow in any country, your chances of being subjected to an error in your care would be something like 1 in 10. Your chances of dying due to an error in health care would be 1 in 300.
  • This compared with a risk of dying in an air crash of about 1 in 10 million passengers, according to Dr Donaldson, formerly England’s chief medical officer.
  • More than 50% of acquired infections can be prevented if health care workers clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based handrub before treating patients.
  • Of every 100 hospitalised patients at any given time, 7 in developed and 10 in developing countries will acquire at least one health care-associated infection, according to the United Nations agency.
  • The longer patients stay in an ICU (intensive care unit), the more at risk they become of acquiring an infection.
  •  Medical devices such as urinary catheters and ventilators are associated with high infection rates.
  • Each year in the United States, 1.7 million infections are acquired in hospital, leading to 100,000 deaths, a far higher rate than in Europe, where 4.5 million infections caused 37,000 deaths, according to the WHO.
  • Risk is even higher in developing countries, with about 15% of patients acquiring infections, said Dr Benedetta Allegranzi of the WHO’s “Clean Care is Safer Care” programme.
  • The risk is really higher in high-risk areas of the hospitals, in particular ICUs or neonatal units in developing countries.
  • About 100,000 hospitals worldwide now use the WHO’s surgical safety checklist, which the agency said has been shown to reduce surgery complications by 33% and deaths by 50%.
  • If the checklist is effectively used worldwide, an estimated 500,000 deaths could be prevented each year, it says.

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