Epilepsy Talk

Why You Should AVOID Going To The Hospital… (If You Can!) | March 9, 2014

A landmark report found that medical mistakes caused as many as 98,000 deaths and more than one million injuries a year in the United States.

That report, by the Institute of Medicine, an independent group that advises the government on health matters, led to a national movement to reduce errors and make hospital stays less hazardous to patients’ health.

Among the preventable problems were severe bleeding during an operation, serious breathing trouble caused by a procedure that was performed incorrectly, a fall that dislocated a patient’s hip and damaged a nerve, and vaginal cuts caused by a vacuum device used to help deliver a baby.

Since then, instead of improvements, the researchers found a higher rate of problems.

About 18 percent of patients were harmed by medical care, some more than once, and 63.1 percent of the injuries were judged to be preventable.

Most of the problems were temporary and treatable, but some were serious, and a few — 2.4 percent — caused or contributed to a patient’s death, the study found.

The findings were a disappointment but not a surprise. Many of the problems were caused by the hospitals’ failure to use measures that had been proved to avert mistakes and to prevent infections from devices like urinary catheters, ventilators and lines inserted into veins and arteries.

An expert on hospital safety who was not associated with the study said the findings were a warning for the patient-safety movement. “We need to do more, and to do it more quickly,” said the expert, Dr. Robert M. Wachter, the chief of hospital medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

A recent government report found similar results, saying that in October 2008, 13.5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries — 134,000 patients — experienced “adverse events” during hospital stays.

The report said the extra treatment required as a result of the injuries could cost Medicare several billion dollars a year. And in 1.5 percent of the patients — 15,000 in the month studied — medical mistakes contributed to their deaths.

That report, issued this month by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, was based on a sample of Medicare records from patients discharged from hospitals.

The study reviewed the records of 2,341 patients admitted to 10 hospitals — in both urban and rural areas and involving large and small medical centers. (The hospitals were not named.) The researchers used a “trigger tool,” a list of 54 red flags that indicated something could have gone wrong.

They included drugs used only to reverse an overdose, the presence of bedsores or the patient’s readmission to the hospital within 30 days.

The researchers found 588 instances in which a patient was harmed by medical care, or 25.1 injuries per 100 admissions.

Although those numbers are sobering, the researchers were more disappointed to see that the rate of errors did not decline over the six years they studied.

Not all the problems were serious. Most were temporary and treatable, like a bout with severe low blood sugar from receiving too much insulin or a urinary infection caused by a catheter.

But 42.7 percent of them required extra time in the hospital for treatment of problems like an infected surgical incision.

In 2.9 percent of the cases, patients suffered a permanent injury — brain damage from a stroke that could have been prevented after an operation, for example.

A little more than 8 percent of the problems were life-threatening, like severe bleeding during surgery. And 2.4 percent of them caused or contributed to a patient’s death — such as bleeding and organ failure after surgery.

A nationally coordinated system is needed to help hospitals put proven safety measures to work, Dr. Christopher Landrigan, a patient safety researcher at both Children’s Hospital Boston and Brigham and Women’s Hospital said — citing surgical checklists, computerized prescription order entry, and limits on how long doctors and nurses can work without sleep.

Electronic medical records help, but not all the safety measures have to be high-tech, he said. One of the most effective ways to prevent hospital-acquired infections is for doctors and nurses to wash their hands.

Dr. Mark R. Chassin, president of the Joint Commission, which accredits hospitals, said, “that preventable complications are way too frequent in American health care,” and “it’s not a problem we’re going to get rid of in six months or a year.”

For the most part, the reporting of medical errors or harm to patients is voluntary, and that vastly underestimates the frequency of errors and injuries that occur.

Leah Binder, the chief executive officer of the Leapfrog Group, a patient safety organization whose members include large employers trying to improve health care, said it was essential that hospitals be more open about reporting problems.

Examples of hospital errors

All of the phases from diagnosis to treatment can have some type of error.

Here is a compilation of different medical mistakes from such organizations as The Institute of Medicine and The National Patient Safety Foundation:

Diagnosis mistakes (Note: there are various mistakes that can cause a misdiagnosis of a condition. Misdiagnosis can be one of the most costly of medical errors, leading to delayed, omitted, or inappropriate medical treatments.

Unfortunately, the wording in the study for misdiagnosis is often “misdiagnosis” or “wrong treatment”, so it’s unclear exactly how many were true misdiagnoses — or a wrong condition treated with the wrong treatment.)

Prescribing errors (68%)
Technical errors (44%)
Misdiagnosis (40%)
Hospital (48%) – account for all errors — including medical procedure error (22%), operating room (7%), emergency room (5%), untrained staff/incompetence (14%),
Medication error (28%)
Carelessness/negligence (29%)
Administration errors (25%)

And HUNDREDS more…

Here’s the really discouraging news: about 70% of all errors were believed to be preventable. The remainder were presumably non-preventable errors such as a patient reacting to a drug who had no previous history of an allergy to the drug.

For further disclosure, go to: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/mistakes/medicat.htm

To subscribe to Epilepsytalk.com and get the latest articles, go to the bottom box of the right column and click on “Sign me up!”

Another article of interest:

Study: 1 in 20 Americans Misdiagnosed  http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/04/16/at-least-1-in-20-americans-misdiagnosed-by-their-doctors-study-finds?src=usn_fb



Information also supplied by:
“To Err Is Human
Building a Safer Health System”

Linda T. Kohn, Janet M. Corrigan, and
Molla S. Donaldson, Editors

Committee on Quality of Health Care in America
Institute of Medicine
National Academy Press
Washington, D.C.


  1. One could expand on this, and advise people to avoid doctors altogether!


    Comment by Martha — March 9, 2014 @ 2:38 PM

  2. Great point!!!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 9, 2014 @ 3:38 PM

    • Great article, bad timing for me though. I wonder how many of these were patient caused?. I am a bad patient and was always getting in trouble with the nurses. Thank God I didnt fall !


      Comment by charlie — March 9, 2014 @ 7:52 PM

      • I bet you were a bad patient!

        But we’re talking bad hospials here…not you, bad boy!


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2014 @ 9:23 AM

  3. That is a good point. It looks like I have seizures because of my child birth. My mom told me that the doctor went to take a nap, and told the nurse to wake him when my mom reached a certain stage. But the nurse forgot and because of her bones being too close together, it squashed my head. So since the bones are so soft, I got a damaged right and left temporal lobe. Then the surgeon told me if I ever have another surgery, go to the RED CROSS and give my blood there, and have them deliver it to the hospital. He said to do that because some of the blood they have at the hospital has H.I.V..


    Comment by Shawn Wittman — March 9, 2014 @ 8:57 PM

  4. Sounds like quite a horrible birth.

    Well, at least you didn’t get Cerebal Palsy from the lack of oxygen.

    As for donating your own blood, I don’t know what year that was, but I insisted on getting blood from someone I trusted, with the same blood type.

    It was during the AIDS era, before they screened blood. But, I couldn’t give my own blood because I had bleeding ulcers already.

    Unfortunatley, a friend of mine had an emergency blood transfustion and she ended up with Hepatitis C!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2014 @ 9:36 AM

  5. Stanford hospital in Palo Alto CA caused the death of famous Republican news anchor Pete Wilson. A few years back. So even the best hospitals make mistakes.


    Comment by Zolt — March 10, 2014 @ 2:37 PM

  6. He went in for a regular hip replacement.


    Comment by Zolt — March 10, 2014 @ 2:37 PM

    • It’s not that the mistakes were made on him, although it DID get national attention.

      The problem is that the mistakes occur to us — big or small — famous or infamous! 🙂

      (Remind me not to get a hip replacement.)


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2014 @ 7:12 PM

  7. The traumatizing experience makes one wonder, if it’s better of with seizures than adding “medical” torture to the nightmare.


    Comment by Gerrie — March 10, 2014 @ 9:38 PM

  8. Well, that’s a conundrum, Gerrie.

    Charlie had botched brain surgery and many years later, thanks to one of Orin Devinsky’s group (my hero), he had completely successful surgery. He’s been seizure free ever since.

    I’ve gone to the neuro with him for the standard quarterly EEG and MRI, plus maintenance meds, and he’s as clean as a whistle.

    Imagine that after an entire life of seizures!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 10, 2014 @ 10:50 PM

    • Phylis,
      Thank you for the inspiring, uplifting & encouraging information, I’m very pleased to know, Charlie overcame this tormenting ordeal & beat Epilepsy.
      It looks like some people have IRON WILL to go through hell & make it through.
      CONGRATULATIONS CHARLIE, You gave me hope.
      (BTW: I apologize my Iphone keyboard is NOT serving me right)


      Comment by Gerrie — March 11, 2014 @ 2:08 AM

  9. Charlie is not only strong and persevering, he’s a prince…helping anyone who needs it.

    He remembers when HE was in that position and is determined to make sure they get what they need.

    Example: his pastor (who makes birdfeed) was away.
    In those two weeks, he organized the church to build the pastor a NEW house…from bottom up.

    And he’s also started his own support group.

    We have a mutual admiration club. I’m just not sure who’s President!!! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 11, 2014 @ 10:38 AM

    • Here’s one of my favorite quotes. “When you’re going through hell keep going” Winston Churchill


      Comment by charlie — March 11, 2014 @ 2:25 PM

    • Great to know, we got HEROES like Charlie to look up to.
      Thanks God, there is light across the tunnel.


      Comment by Gerrie — March 11, 2014 @ 9:56 PM

  10. WONDERFUL Charlie.

    And you should know. You went through hell and emerged on the other side!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 11, 2014 @ 2:31 PM

  11. I’m not on a social website. May I comment here?


    Comment by Sylvia — March 11, 2014 @ 7:43 PM

  12. Oh please do, Sylvia. Although it’s an “informational website” (as opposed to a chat room), as you can see, many people chime in with their experiences, advice and care.

    And you’re free to subscribe — at no cost. Simply go to the bottom box of the right column and click on “Sign me up!”

    Thanks for joining us.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 11, 2014 @ 8:06 PM

  13. Out of the night that covers me
    Dark as the Pit from Pole to Pole
    I thank whatever Gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul

    In the fell clutch of of circumstance
    I have not winced nor cried aloud
    In the (bludgeonings of chance?)
    My head is bloody, yet unbowed

    It matters not how straight the gait
    How charged with punishment the scroll
    I am the Master of My fate
    I am The Captain of My Soul.

    Sorry, could not finish this one correctly, but it sure as hell demonstrates what I feel, what everyone should feel. (I am working on it)


    Comment by meesher — April 19, 2014 @ 5:22 PM

    • Meesher,
      Thank you for sharing this deeply touching & moving poem.
      So true that, every time I get knocked out with seizures & adversity, I get up to keep going, where I left of.


      Comment by Gerrie — April 19, 2014 @ 10:26 PM

  14. OMG Meesher. That is so beautiful and profound. I’m touched. And honored that you shared it with us.

    Thank you.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 20, 2014 @ 9:49 AM

  15. true ,the last time i had a seizure , prior to the drs i have now , was going to Kasier , my son took me up to shop wanted to get something to eat , { ice creme at Baskin Robbins } the moment we had the green light ,had a seizure, there in the car .. my son called 911 , { we lived right down the street.. my husband wondered where i was , i was someplace in Roseville , not the hospital , i went to , the er drs asked me , whos my dr , told him at kasier hospital , gave him the name too .. they didnt know him , then gave me dilatin & another shot , broke out in hives .. to this day , we wait .. til i see me dr .. but again its been a long time , since i had one ….


    Comment by Cathy Flowers — February 7, 2016 @ 7:32 PM

  16. Do you need a doc? If so…this list may be helpful…

    2015 Comprehensive List of GOOD Neurologists…Epileptologists… Neurosurgeons…and Pediatric Doctors

    It’s a compilation by website forum members who have had positive personal experiences with docs over the years.


    Or is it a decent hospital: 2014-2015 Top Ranked Neurology and Neurosurgery Hospitals



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 7, 2016 @ 7:40 PM

  17. when I had my temporal lobectomy I ended up getting an infection in the hospital that is associated with hospitals and is resistant to antibiotics. I ended up having 3 additional surgeries because of that


    Comment by Marissa Rivera — March 28, 2016 @ 11:36 PM

  18. OMG Marissa, how horrible. What was it and how did they finally treat it?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 29, 2016 @ 8:04 AM

  19. I was in and of hospital,s most of my teen age life . I don,t think anything bad happened because I,m stay here.


    Comment by michele metzger — March 29, 2016 @ 1:52 PM

  20. And we’re happy you’re still here, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 29, 2016 @ 3:50 PM

    • And Michele is happy that she is happy that she is happy that she is happy that she is still here, too! Have been getting the much ado about nothing Fentanyl via patch every other night. Some times I’m a little woozy, but I was woozy BEFORE I had the patch. Now I’m pain free, seizure free, and I finally found a pain doctor who deals ONLY with pain–no matter why or what or how—and I feel like a walking patch lab. Speaking of Labs….I wish I had one who could feel or know when I’m going to fall–from the pain meds. Its always this or that of the other. I’ll take whatever. Last week I fell backwards and hit the back of my head on the kitchen floor. Alone. Crawled to freezer for ice back, put it on various bumps back there. Damn, we certainly have alot of ice packs for alot of damn reasons.Love you.


      Comment by meesher — April 1, 2016 @ 6:21 PM

      • Pain doctors are the best. That’s what Arthur depends upon for his hip-to-toes neuropathy. Non-invasive, nice, caring and (guess what?) treats like a live human being.

        Works for me. And him.

        As for me, I fall going up the stairs as well as down the stairs. Would you consider that an art? 🙂


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 1, 2016 @ 7:25 PM

  21. Darn….wrong Michele. At least she spells her name correctly! Hey there girl with one L.


    Comment by meesher — April 1, 2016 @ 6:22 PM

  22. Yup. It’s another Michele. You’re the divine and singular Meesher!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 1, 2016 @ 7:16 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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