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Expert Urges Patients To Ask Questions To Prevent Errors During A Hospital Stay

Hospitals were once thought to be a safe haven where patients could feel safe and secure knowing that they would be given the best care possible. That's no longer the case. Mistakes such as medication mix-ups, infection spreads and procedure errors have proven fatal for many people.

Experts believe patients can protect themselves when heading to the hospital, and it's as simple as asking questions. According to an article in USA Weekend by contributing editor Dr. Tedd Mitchell, director of the Cooper Clinic's Wellness Program in Dallas, the following are 10 important questions that could save your life:

Can we talk now?

Patients are encouraged to speak with their doctor before they go to the hospital.

What tests will be done?

It is important to know what tests will be performed. This will help you get prepared and make you aware of other tests that you won't need.

Which doctor will oversee my care in the hospital?

Lots of specialty care will be given during your hospital stay, but you're encouraged to find out the one physician who will be in charge of you while there. This will make it easier for the main physician to coordinate recommendations made by the specialists.

Do I need nursing checks at night?

You should find out if you will need routine checks of your "vital signs" throughout the night. Also, Dr. Mitchell suggests that you ask your doctor to preapprove any drugs you might need for sleep, constipation or pain. By doing this you won't have to wait for nurses to get approval on medicines to give you.

Do you know me?

Always make sure that any staff member who administers any medical procedure on you or takes you somewhere also checks your wristband to ensure that you are the right patient.

Have you washed your hands?

Many times a person can go to the hospital for one illness and contract another one during his stay. Occasionally, this comes from busy doctors and nurses who forget to wash their hands between patients, Dr. Mitchell told the newspaper. So don't be afraid to ask.

Am I ready to be hospitalized?

Over-the-counter medication and supplements can have adverse effects on other medicines, test results and even surgery. Therefore, it is suggested you stop taking over-the-counter drugs and certain supplements at least two weeks before surgeries.

Are you supposed to cut there?

No one wants to have the wrong body part operated on, but it has happened. Make sure the part to be operated on is clearly identified.

Can I have elective surgery in the middle of the week?

Surgeries performed on Fridays do not have full staff available on the weekend because of weekend emergencies. Try to schedule surgery for midweek to avoid this problem.

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