At some point people may visit a hospital and see a doctor for both acute and chronic ailments. Given the strict regulations hospitals have to abide by, most people expect hospitals to be safe. However, Montana residents may find it interesting to learn that hospital mistakes and errors cost the U.S. anywhere from $17 to $30 billion each year.

Sometimes hospitals are not as safe as one might expect. In fact it is not uncommon for patients to routinely get harmed and sometimes even lose their lives due to mistakes and errors made by the nurses and doctors who are charged with their care. Coming in eighth place among the top 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are medical errors and loss of life due to infections that are acquired while one is hospitalized. Given this statistic, it is a reasonable deduction that being hospitalized can legitimately increase the chance of putting one in harm’s way.

According to a public health officer, to avoid healthcare professional’s errors, it is important to be proactive about one’s care. For example, it is important to tell one’s doctor everything one is taking no matter how insignificant it may be. Drug interactions can be deadly even when combined with some of the most seemingly benign substances.

It also doesn’t hurt to do one’s own homework and check the safety record of the hospital one plans to have an operation or procedure at. In fact, one in four patients that are admitted to a hospital end up being on the receiving end of some sort of accident or error that ends up harming them in some way. Usually the harm is minor but sometimes it can be serious, even deadly.

Finding hospital safety statistics can be difficult but an independent hospital watchdog group called Leapfrog has made that task a little bit easier. They tally and publish hospital safety scores for hospitals around the country as a public service. They use a letter grade from A to F with A being best and F being the worst.

For anyone who believes that they have suffered a serious injury or are now in a worsened condition due a mistake a health care provider has made, it may be helpful to contact a law firm in one’s area to determine if one has a legally viable medical malpractice case against the hospital or doctor. In general, medical malpractice is the result of some form of negligence on the part of the hospital or doctor. Fortunately, there are legal options in place to help compensate patients for the injuries they suffered due to medical malpractice.

Source: Jefferson Public Radio, “Hospitals Aren’t As Safe As You Might Think,” Tiffany Eckert, Jan. 24, 2014