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Consumer Reports Shines Spotlight on Hospital Safety

It's a pretty basic concept-you go to the hospital to get well. But unfortunately, a recent study shows far too many people are dying in hospitals after something goes wrong.
It's a pretty basic concept-you go to the hospital to get well. But unfortunately, a recent study shows far too many people are dying in hospitals after something goes wrong.

These instances are mostly avoidable. Patients get the wrong drugs, fail to get needed tests or treatments, or develop infections that could have been prevented. Fortunately, Consumer Reports now has some advice to help you and your loved ones survive a hospital stay.

John James has dedicated himself to improving hospital safety. His teenage son died after what James says was a series of hospital errors.

"We got humans here. They make mistakes. The real question is are they making too many mistakes and are they learning from the ones they make? And my answer is they're not learning as well as they could be," James said.

The Journal of Patient Safety published James' analysis, which estimates 440,000 people a year die after suffering medical errors in hospitals. James says it's the third biggest cause of death after heart disease and cancer.

Consumer Reports has also studied hospital safety and has rated more than 2500 hospitals on how safe they are.

"For our mortality ratings, we use the most recent data available from the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services," Dr. John Santa said.

Consumer Reports mortality ratings are based on how likely patients are to die within 30 days of being admitted for a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia. And they consider how often surgery patients with serious treatable complications die in the hospital.

"Although this data is from people 65 and older, it's a good indication of a hospital's attention to safety. And we find the chance of dying is much higher in some hospitals than others," Dr. Santa explained.

Consumer Reports hopes that by putting a spotlight on safety, hospitals will do a better job preventing hospital errors.

Consumer Reports says your best defense against hospital errors is being an informed patient and having a friend or family member with you as much as possible.

United Regional comes in with a score of 58 in the survey of 420 Texas hospitals, with 71 being the highest and 30 the lowest.

You can check out hospital rankings yourself, here: http://www.consumerreports.org/health/doctors-hospitals/hospital-ratings.htm

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