A trip to the hospital may already be a frightening experience if your reason for going is an injury, illness or surgery. You already have a lot on your mind as you worry about your health, and you certainly don't want to wonder about the safety rating of your hospital.
Unfortunately, with hundreds of thousands of patients dying in U.S. hospitals from preventable medical errors, concern over your hospital's rating may be more important in recent years. Public safety advocate groups, like Leapfrog, routinely publish ratings for hospitals across the country. While some recent news is encouraging, for those who only have access to low-rated hospitals, the situation is getting worse.
How does your hospital rate?
Leapfrog rates hospitals like a report card, using letter grades from A to F. This is a much stricter standard than even the federal government's rating system. Of the 2,600 hospitals the nonprofit group examined in its most recent report, 168 received failing or near-failing grades, including a hospital in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
The tragedy is that, while nearly 45,000 fewer patients died last year than reported in 2016, those hospitals with past low ratings seemed to have declined even more in their scores. You may be at risk for any of the common, preventable events that continue to occur in hospitals, including these and others:
- Surgical mistakes, such as leaving sponges or instruments inside you
- Medication errors, including giving powerful medications to you without your knowledge or consent
- Lack of monitoring, which may result in your condition deteriorating dangerously before a staff member notices
- Negligent hygiene that can lead to serious, life-threatening infections
Infections are among the most common medical complications you can suffer in a hospital. Hospitals with consistently high ratings have taken proactive measures to prevent infections. This includes improving methods for cleaning your room before and after your stay and enforcing personal hygiene among staff members.
Fighting for your health
If the hospital you use has a C rating, Leapfrog calculates that your risk of suffering from an avoidable, fatal medical mistake is 88% higher. However, even those hospitals with B ratings raise your risk by 35%. Medical mistakes are almost always avoidable, and when your illness or injury results from the negligence of a doctor or nurse, your suffering may be lifelong.
You have the right to a high standard of care when you need medical attention. When you do not receive that quality care, you may wish to reach out to a legal professional to discuss your options.