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I spoke recently at a summit organized by Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project, and learned in detail about the persistence and prevalence of hospital-acquired infections and other safety risks. Hospitals are not as safe as they should and could be, and hospital safety advocates are working hard to turn that around. Joe and Terry Graedon of People’s Pharmacy, who are cofounders of the Society of Participatory Medicine, write about “Avoiding Harm in the hospital,” noting a report just issued by the Inspector General of Health and Human Services showing that a projected 15,000 Medicare patients die monthly as a result of hospital care, and 44% of the adverse events could have been prevented. They go on to advise what caregivers and patients can do in the interest of safety and survival: always have a caregiver/advocate with the patient, ask about medications and drug interactions, and get detailed discharge instructions when leaving the hospital.


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