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Hospital Errors Continue to Kill Patients

September 10, 2010 | 34,128 views
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hospital patientHundreds of deaths and serious injuries can be attributed to mix-ups with similar-looking types of medical tubing. Experts and standards groups have long advocated that tubes for different purposes be made so that they are incompatible with each other.

However, this has been delayed by resistance from the medical-device industry, as well as an FDA approval process that can discourage safety-related changes.

The New York Times reports:

“Tubes intended to inflate blood-pressure cuffs have been connected to intravenous lines, leading to deadly air embolisms. Intravenous fluids have been connected to tubes intended to deliver oxygen, leading to suffocation. And in 2006 Julie Thao, a nurse ... mistakenly put a spinal anesthetic into a vein, killing 16-year-old Jasmine Gant, who was giving birth.”

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Many people regard hospitals as safe havens -- places where all of their medical needs can be fixed up and healed. But for far too many, walking into a hospital for a treatable condition turns out to be a death sentence.

This was exactly the case for 24-year-old Robin Rodgers, who was hospitalized at 35 weeks pregnant due to vomiting and weight loss.

As the New York Times reported, this otherwise healthy young woman and her unborn daughter died after a feeding tube was mistakenly connected to an intravenous line, sending liquid food directly into her veins -- a fatal, and completely avoidable, mistake.

In cases like these it’s difficult to say where the fault lies, but the very design of medical tubing deserves at least part of the blame.

Medical Tubing Errors Common

Medical tubing serves a variety of unique purposes in hospitals, for instance delivering medication, fluids, food, gases or blood to different areas of the body – the veins, arteries, stomach, lungs, etc.

Unfortunately, many varieties of medical tubing are interchangeable and easily connectable, meaning it is very simple to mistakenly connect a feeding tube to an intravenous line, or IV fluids to an oxygen tube, leading to suffocation.

The New York Times also reported a case where a spinal anesthetic used for pain relief during childbirth was mistakenly put into a vein, killing the 16-year-old recipient.

With nurses often working overtime or covering too many patients at once, it is all too easy to connect a tube improperly, leading to an often fatal outcome for the patient.

A simple solution would be to change the design of the tubes so tubing for different functions are no longer compatible with one another, but so far the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been slow to take action.

Why Doesn’t the FDA Put an End to Medical Tube Mishaps?

Despite the fact that medical tubing errors occur commonly at hospitals, the FDA continues to approve tubes that are hooked up using interchangeable connectors that go into the stomach, the veins, and so on. Their reasoning behind this is because the new tubes are no more dangerous than those already on the market, so they cannot be denied.

In other words, the FDA knowingly allows potentially dangerous devices to continue to infiltrate the medical market rather than requiring the safety flaws be fixed. Even the FDA has acknowledged that the system used for medical device approvals contains flaws, and they have released a preliminary assessment aimed at overhauling the system.

Still, nine FDA employees have already claimed the FDA’s device approval process has so many flaws it is “illegal and dangerous,” according to the New York Times. One former FDA device reviewer, Dr. Robert Smith, left the agency in July over this very issue, telling the Times:

“The FDA could fix this tubing problem tomorrow, but because the agency is so worried about making industry happy, people continue to die.”

For now, tubing mix-ups will likely continue at hospitals around the world, adding to the already high incidence of completely avoidable hospital medical mishaps.

Hospital Risks Soar to Unacceptable Levels

One of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing the information on this site about healthy eating, exercise, and stress management with you is because it can help keep you OUT of the hospital.

Unless you have an emergency, you are best served by avoiding hospitals because of medical errors, superbugs, and other dangers that lurk there. Remember that the hospital is not a safe place.

Unfortunately, it is becoming all too common for people to go into the hospital for a “routine” surgery or medical procedure, only to contract a severe hospital-acquired infection or succumb to an adverse drug reaction or other medication mishap.

According to the latest study, “patient safety incidents,” which is a nice way of saying “preventable medical mistakes,” are common in U.S. hospitals. In all, over the years 2006-2008 there were nearly 1 million incidents among Medicare patients, and one in 10 of them were deadly.

A HealthGrades report even pointed out that “the incidence rate of medical harm occurring is estimated to be over 40,000 each and EVERY day according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement!”

Most people, including most health care professionals, simply do not understand that hospitals account for over ONE-THIRD of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends for "health care." This is TRIPLE what we surrender to drug companies.

It would not be so bad if we actually received major benefits for this investment, but, as this report -- and others -- illustrate, this frequently is not the case.

The U.S. now ranks LAST out of 19 countries for unnecessary deaths -- deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care. Additionally, one-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.

In the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year as well, and 100,000 people die as a result.

In essence, what we have here is a trend of health care costs rising, mistakes increasing, and pharmaceutical drug-induced side effects and deaths skyrocketing.

How to Stay Out of Hospitals …

As I said earlier, your best strategy is to support and nourish your health so you can stay OUT of hospitals as much as possible.

You can take control of your health by following my free comprehensive online recommendations, which contains tools that will help you to reduce your reliance on the broken health care system in the United States.

The guidelines that follow are more basic strategies to live by; strategies that will boost your health and well-being naturally to keep you out of the hospital and enjoying life!

  • Address your emotional traumas and manage your stress
  • Get optimal exposure to sunlight or a safe tanning bed or take oral vitamin D if this is not possible
  • Drink plenty of clean water
  • Limit your exposure to toxins
  • Consume healthy fat
  • Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)
  • Eat plenty of raw food
  • Optimize your insulin and leptin levels
  • Exercise
  • Get plenty of good sleep

Tips for Staying Safe if You’re Hospitalized

In the event that you are hospitalized, you should know that all are not created equal.

The HealthGrades 2010 report found major discrepancies in medical errors between the hospitals at the top of the list and those at the bottom, so if you have a choice of hospitals, do your research first. You can find patient-safety ratings at hospitals across the United States from the HealthGrades Web site.

Likewise, deaths attributed to medication errors rise by as much as 25 percent above normal in the first few days of every month, because there often isn't enough staff to handle the beginning-of-the-month spike in prescriptions. Being admitted on a Friday has also been linked to longer hospital stays, so if you can time your stay to avoid these periods, so much the better.

If you are going there for elective therapy it would also be best to avoid going in July, as that is the most dangerous time of the year in hospitals due to staff turnover.

You should also take it upon yourself to be your own patient safety advocate or, if you’re not able, ask a friend or family member to do so. Do not hesitate to ask about medications or medical procedures you’re receiving, including asking your nurse or doctor to verify that you’re receiving the proper dosages and not being given medications that can interact with one another.

You can even mention this article about tubing mishaps and ask your nurse to double-check the connections before hooking any tubing up. They may not like that you’re checking up on them, but this is your life at stake, so don’t worry about offending anyone.

It is perfectly within your rights to stay informed about the hospital procedures being performed on you, and I highly recommend you do so as much as possible to help lessen your chances of falling victim to a hospital medical mishap.


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