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Little known hospital secrets

Little-known Hospital Secrets

In a recent movie a young girl must reach a castle set in the middle of a confusing maze to save her baby brother. Along the way, she faces many tricks and traps. And everything she encounters isn’t quite what it seems.

For many people, that picture also describes a stay in the hospital. But as you get older, your chances of having to spend time in a hospital grow. So I’d like to share a few secrets that can help make your stay easier and safer.

First, if you can avoid it, don’t schedule surgery in July. And – no – it has nothing to do with summer vacation. July is when new residents arrive at teaching hospitals.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego call this “The July Effect.” In their study, deaths from medication errors spiked by 10% in July in U.S. counties with teaching hospitals.1

No other month showed sudden spikes. And counties without teaching hospitals don’t have a July spike. So the study’s authors believe the sudden rise in mistakes is probably linked to the arrival of the new residents.

Another staffing decision that can improve your hospital stay goes right to the top.

In a recent survey of 300 top U.S. hospitals, leadership proved to be key to the overall quality of care. Hospitals headed by a doctor scored an average of 25% higher on quality of care than hospitals led by professional managers.2

The message seems to be, if you want the cream of the crop where care is concerned; choose a hospital with a doctor at the helm.

And, speaking of doctors, here’s a tip to get more time with the doctor when it’s most important…

If a friend or family member has to spend time in intensive care (ICU), try to arrange for a bed likely to be visited early during rounds.

A small study – presented at a recent meeting of the Society of Critical Care Medicine – found that doctors spent far more time with ICU patients earlier in their daily rounds.

How much more time? Up to 8 minutes more than with the last patient!3 So for maximum “face time” with your doctor – in a critical healthcare situation – push for the ICU bed most likely to be visited first.

This ICU trick is great after surgery… but here’s a simple secret to use before your operation. It’s remarkably simple, but it could save your life.

Ask your surgeon if he uses a checklist.

This may sound a little silly, but it’s no joke. A simple checklist could easily make the difference between a successful hospital stay and one that… well… one you don’t want to be a part of.

According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, 8 hospitals around the world began using a simple 19-item verbal checklist for all surgeries in 2007. A year later, they had cut their surgical mortality rate in half!4

That’s right: in half! In other words, if your surgeon uses a simple checklist, your odds of a good hospital stay go way up. And that’s not all. In this study, using a checklist cut the rate of post-surgery complications by a whopping 63%.

Finally, a life-saving secret that will take just a little bit of “chutzpah” on your part: Act like your grandmother.

Doctors have known for 150 years that simply washing your hands is the best way to prevent passing infections. But experts say that less than half the medical staff you’ll see in the hospital will remember to wash their hands before they work with you.5

So, if you don’t see a doctor or nurse – or other health care provider – wash their hands before touching you… politely ask them to do so.

That may seem a little pushy. But it really isn’t. Nearly 2 million patients get infections in the hospital every year… and almost 10% of those infections are fatal. So be like Grandma and politely request they wash their hands. It could save your life.

Yours in continued good health,

Best Life Herbals Wellness Team

1 Phillips, D.P. and Barker, G.E., “A July spike in fatal medication errors: a possible effect of new medical residents,” J Gen Intern Med. Aug 2010; 25(8): 774-779.
2 Goodall, A.H., “Physician-leaders and hospital performance: is there an association?” Soc Sci Med. Aug 2011; 73(4): 535-539.
3 Bankhead, C., “Last Patients on ICU Rounds Get Least Time,” MedPage Today. Feb 9, 2012.
4 Haynes, A.B., et al, “A Surgical Safety Checklist to Reduce Morbidity and Mortality in a Global Population,” N Engl J Med. 2009; 360:491-499.
5 Consumers Union, “Stay Safe in the Hospital.” Jan 2005.

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