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How often do medical errors occur?

Fact: One in three patients who are admitted to the hospital will experience a medical error (Source:

Deaths due to medical errors are now only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. If you or a loved one was hospitalized, would you know what to look and listen for to avoid becoming another unfortunate statistic?

I can give you some examples of errors that occurred during my dad's hospital stays. These would have easily gone unnoticed if I had not paid attention to every detail of his care.

Here are a few examples:

* Weight was documented as 300lbs rather than the accurate 160lbs. Not a big deal one might think. However, many medications, including chemotherapy, are dosed based on weight, so it's actually a very big deal.

* The doctors started him on antibiotics before they took his sputum to culture for bacteria. Someone not medically trained wouldn't think twice, let alone even notice this. However, with antibiotics already on board, the culture results would not be accurate. Another big deal.

* He needed vaccines specific to the fact that his spleen was no longer functioning. The Infectious Disease doctor who specializes in this couldn't tell us which ones he needed. I was already one step ahead and made sure this wouldn't get missed.

There are many opportunities for error in our fast-paced healthcare system. Doctors are being asked to see so many patients per day that they can't provide each the attention that is warranted. Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to yours or your loved one's health. Knowledge is power.

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