5 ways to improve patient safety in Iowa hospitals

Both facility staff and patients can take measures to improve safety in a hospital setting.

Simply put, most people do not wish to end up in a hospital. However, these experiences may be positive when the staff treats patients as they should. Unfortunately, there are many cases in Iowa in which someone is harmed due to medical negligence.

In order to avoid injury, both facility staff and patients should take steps such as the following:

1. Get all the information

It is a sad fact that doctors do not always know a patient's full medical history. In some cases, this occurs because emergency treatment is required and there is simply no time to review every intervention a patient has had. However, mistakes do happen when physicians overlook important details.

Therefore, doctors must be prudent in learning about a patient's allergies or current medication he or she is on. Likewise, patients should do their best to inform doctors about their conditions.

2. Prescribe and take medicine correctly

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates that nearly 5 percent of people in a hospital experience an adverse drug event every year. There are a number of reasons this happens, such as a medical professional administering the wrong drug or the wrong dosage. Prior to giving a patient medicine of any kind, medical staff should check and re-check information, including allergies, the drug name and the dose.

3. Ask questions

Patients should never be afraid to question a doctor's decisions, whether it is regarding ordering a test, the side effects of a drug or any other intervention. When possible, people in hospitals should ask for a second opinion.

4. Insist on hand-washing

Infections associated with simply being in a hospital setting are, unfortunately, common. These range from surgery-site infections to pneumonia. One of the many ways to reduce these is to insist that anyone who walks into a patient's room has washed his or her hands.

Filing a claim

In the event that a physician, facility or medical staff member is negligent and causes harm to a patient, Iowa's laws do permit the injured to seek compensation. According to the law, people who suffer medical malpractice have two years from the date that the patient knew or should have known about the injury.

There is also a statute of repose. This dictates that no lawsuit may be brought more than six years from the date of the incident. The exception to this law is that if there was a foreign object left in the body, in which case the statute of repose does not apply.

People who have concerns about this topic should speak with a medical malpractice attorney in Iowa.