If you’re injured or sick there’s one place you want to be, in the hospital. It’s the only logical place to go if you want to get better, surely. The thing is, hospitals aren’t always as safe as you might think. Obviously, going to hospital is still the right thing to do if you’re sick and the majority of the time, you’ll only get better. However, there are still a lot of dangers present in a hospital that you might never have thought of. Next time you need to go into hospital, just be aware of some of the ways that you could be putting your health at risk.
Going to hospital is always best for your physical health but it might not be the best for your mental health. The whole setup of a hospital is based around optimizing treatment for your physical health but that often comes at the cost of your mental well-being. You’ll constantly be exposed to loud machinery and bright lights which can seriously affect sleep patterns and impact your mental health. You’ll also be woken up from time to time for tests etc. The experience is often stressful in general because you’re in an alien environment being treated by complete strangers, only able to see your family for short periods during visiting time. That can easily lead to feelings of isolation which have a big impact on your mental health as well.
We often think of doctors and surgeons as some kind of higher beings that are incapable of making mistakes, mainly because we don’t want to entertain the idea that something could go seriously wrong. But the harsh reality is medical errors do happen, and more often than you think. Recent studies show that around 250,000 deaths per year in the US are a result of medical mistakes and are completely preventable. Medical errors are responsible for a staggering one third of annual deaths in the United States which is far higher than anybody previously thought. This is something that we’ve only just started looking into so those numbers are likely to decrease once we address the problem but it’s always going to be a risk. Nobody’s perfect, even doctors. If you’re going into hospital for a minor procedure, you’ve got less risk of medical errors because the procedure is simpler but it’s always something you should be aware of.
As well as errors in surgery, you’re also at risk of mistakes with medication. There are thousands of patients in the hospital at one time, usually taking all sorts of different medications. It’s not that common but sometimes mistakes can be made. Taking medication for a condition that you don’t have can be extremely dangerous and you won’t realize the damage it’s doing for a while. If you’re getting a blood transfusion, there’s always the chance of a mix up somewhere along the line.
Falling is one of the most common ways that people get injured and the risks are increased tenfold if you’re in hospital. You’re often given lots of painkillers and sedatives while you’re in hospital which makes you a bit unsteady on your feet. When you’re moving around the hospital, you’re far more likely to trip and fall, especially if your body is already weak due to an illness or injury. There are precautions taken but the hospital staff can’t watch you at all times to make sure that you don’t fall.
Hospitals are exceptionally clean places because they need to reduce the risk of infection. But however hard they try, the hospital staff are never going to to be able to remove all bacteria from the hospital entirely. Regardless of the precautions that they take, you’re always going to be at risk of infection when you stay in the hospital. There are a lot of sick people around so there are all sorts of infections and illnesses floating around and you’re at risk of catching them. Every year, around 650,000 people every year catch an infection in hospital and roughly 75,000 of them die from those infections. When an infection takes hold in a hospital, it spreads like wildfire because there are a lot of people in a confined space, often with weakened immune systems so the hospital can actually be a very dangerous place.
We like to think that hospitals are completely safe but even there, there are a lot of dangers that you have to watch out for.