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Common dangers patients face in hospitals

Medical mistakes are thought to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, just behind heart disease and cancer -- but exact figures are hard to come by because death certificates are designed to list the disease or condition that the deceased was being treated for instead of the complication that led to death.

What are some of the most common dangers you face inside a hospital?

1. "Never" events

A "never" event is any one of 29 different types of events that should never occur because they indicate a shocking sort of neglect. For example, something gets left inside one out of every 1,000 to 1,500 patients during intra-abdominal surgeries, and 1 out of ever 20 of those patients dies as a result. Foreign objects should never be left inside a patient, especially since each item used in surgery is counted prior to and after surgery.

2. Exposure to surgical smoke

Surgical smoke contains roughly 150 chemicals, including those that are toxic, carcinogenic, and contain viruses and bacteria. Studies have found that surgical smoke can transmit cancer cells to benign tissue and it can even transfer infectious diseases, including HPV.

3. Unnecessary tests

Most people don't think of unnecessary testing as a hazard, but it actually puts a tremendous amount of stress on patients and often exposes them to unnecessary risks. It's important to remember that all medical procedures put patients at risk of complications.

4. Delayed or incorrect diagnoses

Studies have shown that anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of diagnoses aren't made in a timely manner -- if at all. A delayed diagnosis can rob a patient of the last chance that he or she might have of beating a disease. For example, slow-moving skin cancers have a high probability of being beat if they are caught and treated in time. An incorrect diagnosis could expose a patient to treatments that are not only dangerous and useless but ones that could actually make a patient sicker.

In many cases, medical malpractice comes down to the medical provider's incompetence or negligence. In some cases, they fail to follow the accepted standard of care for the patient's given symptoms or conditions. In other cases, the doctor fails to warn the patient of the risks of treatment.

If you've been the victim of hospital negligence, talk to an attorney to discuss your situation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Here Are Some Scary Things That Can Happen To You In A Hospital," Ann Brenoff, March 07, 2017

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