When you are admitted to the hospital for an illness or for surgery, you meet all sorts of people. From lab workers to surgeons, we never know just how many people actually play a role in our care. And very often, you may be shocked to learn, there is no one at the center of this web of people orchestrating your care.
If your admission is scheduled, you’ll meet the people on staff when you arrive. You’ll have a nurse visiting your room, a phlebotomist taking your blood, and perhaps even a visit from the doctor. Someone will come and have you sign forms, your surgeon may pay you a visit, and your anesthesiologist will stop by, too. Then the shift changes, and so do the faces. If you enter the hospital through the emergency room or if you have a disease that requires a specialist’s care, the number of people involved only increases.
So, in this constant ebb and flow of people from your room, it would be comforting to know that one single person is monitoring the medication, the advice, the instructions, and the procedures. Unfortunately, according to a report in Kaiser Health News, that isn’t always true.
“Nobody is responsible for coordinating care,” said a Harvard Health policy analyst, Dr. Lucian Leape, who calls this the “dirty little secret” about health care.
This lack of coordination leads to the number one cause of hospital errors: communication breakdowns.
In 1999, a report on the lack of coordination brought attention to the issue. Since then, although things have improved, there is still much room for improvement.
In 2010, it was estimated that around 15,000 Medicare patients every single month suffered harm in the hospital that contributed to their deaths.
While the hospital may deem someone to be a patient’s general coordinator of care, a hospitalist perhaps, families and patients often feel like no one is at the center of their care.
“Unless the patient has written it down, they will say, ‘Someone was here, but I don’t remember what they said,’” explained Ilene Corina of PULSE, an organization for patient safety.
So, when you are in the hospital and your head spins from the number of people involved, appoint a family member or loved one to help keep track of who is who and where their stories diverge. If you get conflicting information from various medical staff, speak up. Your vocal self-advocacy could prevent a serious medical mistake.
Indiana Medical Malpractice Lawyers
If you are the victim of a hospital error or surgical mistake, you deserve justice. The attorneys with Baker & Gilchrist may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your legal options in a medical malpractice case. for a free consultation.