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U.S. Hospitals Fail to Improve Patient Safety and Injure and Kill Thousands Every Day

hospital, patientNearly 1 million patient-safety incidents occurred among Medicare patients over the years 2006, 2007, and 2008 -- the figure remained virtually unchanged since last year’s annual study. In all, the incidents were associated with $8.9 billion in costs.

Some of the most common and most serious indicators even worsened, including decubitus ulcer (bed sores), iatrogenic pneumothorax (collapsed lung), post-operative hip fracture, post-operative physiologic and metabolic derangements, post-operative pulmonary embolism (potentially fatal blood clots forming in the lungs) or deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs), post-operative sepsis, and transfusion reaction.

One in 10 patients -- almost 100,000 people all told -- experiencing a patient-safety incident died as a result.

Patients at hospitals in the top 5 percent experienced 43 percent fewer patient safety incidents, on average. If all hospitals performed at this level, more than 218,000 patient safety incidents and over 22,000 deaths could potentially have been avoided, saving $2 billion over three years.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I have said it before and I’m going to say it again now: I recommend avoiding hospitals whenever practically possible as they are one of the most unhealthy environments to be in.

About the only time they are appropriate is to recover from the results of unexpected accidental traumas or repair surgical emergencies like appendicitis.

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.

What Does the Most Expensive Health Care System in the World Get You?

40,000 medical mistakes a day …

That’s right. The HealthGrades report 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.

Ten years ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in North America.

More recently, Johns Hopkins Medical School refined this research and discovered that medical errors and prescription drugs may actually be the LEADING cause of death, outpacing cancer (which is now our deadliest disease).

Your Health May Not be Safe in the Hands of the U.S. Medical Care System

The U.S. health system is in a continual downward spiral -- something I’ve been warning people about for more than two decades -- and despite the ever-increasing amounts of money invested, your chances of achieving optimal health through it are only getting worse.

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.

If You Must Go Into a Hospital, Do Your Homework …

In the event that you must go to a hospital, you should know that all are not created equal.

The HealthGrades 2010 report found major discrepancies between the hospitals at the top of the list and those at the bottom:

“Patients at hospitals in the top 5% -- 2010 HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ recipients -- experienced 43% fewer patient safety incidents, on average, compared to poorly performing hospitals. If all hospitals performed at this level, 218,572 patient safety incidents and 22,590 deaths could potentially have been avoided, saving $2.0 billion from 2006 through 2008.”

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.

How to Avoid Becoming a Statistic

This article will hopefully serve as yet another major wake-up call, providing solid evidence that the conventional health care system is desperately in need of radical change.

You need to know that you CAN Take Control of Your Health. The first step is to follow my free comprehensive online recommendations. If you would like more details you can review my book. These tools 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!

  1. Address your emotional traumas and manage your stress

  2. Get optimal exposure to sunlight or a safe tanning bed or take oral vitamin D if this is not possible

  3. Drink plenty of clean water

  4. Limit your exposure to toxins

  5. Consume healthy fat

  6. Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)

  7. Eat plenty of raw food

  8. Optimize your insulin and leptin levels

  9. Exercise

  10. Get plenty of good sleep