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Are hospitals more dangerous over the holidays?

December 18, 2008 by  

Hospital errors may increase around the holidaysThe holiday season should be a time for relaxation, but for people in the hospital – or their families and friends – the period can be fraught with chaos, one author claims.

Martine Ehrenclou, who wrote Critical Conditions: The Essential Hospital Guide to Get Your Loved One Out Alive, warns that medical errors can increase in late December and early January.

She places the blame on increased nurse-to-patient ratios, the presence of temporary staff and doctors who have headed out of town.

In order to help prevent disasters, Ehrenclou suggests that each patient request that a friend or family member keep a written record of the names of each healthcare professional involved, as well as diagnosis and treatment information.

She recommends that patients specifically request that physicians and nurses wash their hands and use gloves before touching them, in order to help prevent MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections.

Additionally, before any surgery is carried out, people should make sure that the surgeon marks the particular site where the operation takes place, to be confirmed with the patient’s family.

Statistics cited by the FDA indicate that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year from medical errors in hospitals.
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