Florida Medical Rights Association is a health policy advocacy organization, whose bottom line goal is to improve patient safety in Florida hospitals. Our first act is to get Florida's statute 768.21(8) amended. The accountability levels are a problem in Florida One challenge we face in Florida is that the only organization legally policing individual medical files with errors is the hospital administration staff, where the very offenders are employed. Self policing doesn't work, especially where dollars are involved.
Medical error is currently listed by the NIH as the 3rd leading cause of death in America. There may be times in each of our lives where we need to utilize the services of a hospital. We must be educated on how to take charge of our own care during our stay and vigilant to be aware of what is going on around us. If we can not, having a family member or friend close by at all times possible is your most valued and potentially life saving asset.
As many as 440,000 people die every year from hospital errors, injuries, accidents, and infections
Every year, 1 out of every 25 patients develops an infection while in the hospital—an infection that didn’t have to happen.
A Medicare patient has a 1 in 4 chance of experiencing injury, harm or death when admitted to a hospital
Today alone, more than 1000 people will die because of a preventable hospital error
Some say you would be better off harmed by a Florida hospital than killed. In fact if you were harmed but live through the ordeal, you and your family may be entitled to compensation. If you die however, unless you are married and/or have minor children there is no recourse. The first order of business of course is to survive a hospital stay. To increase your safety and survival outcomes, below are some helpful tips/resources:
Assign medical power of attorney to someone you trust to be inquisitive and diligent on your behalf
This gives them the authority to monitor your care, make decisions on your behalf if you are unable, and to freely exchange information with doctors and nursing staff. This can be done prior to or during your hospital stay or once you arrive. With two witnesses there is no need to have the document notarized, under state law. This Florida firm, Attorney Alternatives charges $35 to prepare the document and email you the readied form, all you will need to do is print and sign or stop by the office and pick it up.
Don't have someone who can be your heath care advocate?
Consider hiring one, it just might save your life
Here are three places I found with a simple google search, but there are many:
Visit Leapfrog Hospital Grade for important information about your hospital of choice and additional tips that will help you or your loved one survive a hospital stay. Learn about the safety rating of your hospital of choice, maybe choose a different facility. Use the search tools to find the letter grade given to your local hospitals along with the reasons why. This is a nationwide database put together by the Leapfrog group. Here hospitals are ranked for everything from infection rates, surgical rates and having qualified physicians.
Research medications being given to you
The National Library of Medicine is an excellent resource. Ask questions, know what's going into your body and check for contraindications. Too often one doctor will give something that contraindicates what another doctor is giving. The results can be deadly. You have the right to refuse any drug. Additionally if your hospital stay may include pain medicine, ask to be given the medication "only upon your request" rather than receiving a scheduled dose. Each time you make the request a nurse will need to physically check the chart to see if it is permissible. The alternative being a scheduled dose can lead to mishaps, especially around shift change and could lead to an accidental overdose.
Visit Pubmed.gov for useful medical studies
Do your own homework. Question anything that doesn't "sit right."
Of course we must stay hopeful during a hospital stay, but I encourage you to take it one step further. Leaving healthier than arrival is the ultimate goal. Be your own advocate if you can. Don't blindly trust overworked and understaffed medical staff. Trust yourself, trust your gut. Question their decisions, prescriptions and courses of action. If you don't agree, empower yourself and remember - you have the right to say no. You have the power to listen to your body and hear more clearly than anyone else. Trust what your body tells you. Trust yourself above your doctor. Trust your doctor when it makes sense.
*Source: http://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org/ & Leapfrog Hospital Grades