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A friend recently told me, "There are no minor surgeries." She's actually a surgeon, so I took her seriously. All surgery carries benefits as well as risks, not just from the procedure but also from the potential for the humans involved in the complex process to make mistakes. The Affordable Care Act included incentives for hospitals to improve patient safety, and so far those efforts seem to be paying off. The Department of Health and Human Services announced in September that "hospital acquired conditions" (HACs) declined 17 percent from 2010 to 2014, with patients experiencing 2.1 million fewer HACs, saving 87,000 lives and $20 billion.
While hospitals are ramping up efforts to reduce medical errors, patients are increasingly expected to become active participants in their own care. Choosing a surgeon and hospital, weighing treatment options and continuously monitoring what goes on with your care during a hospital stay are big responsibilities. In the second installment of "The Empowered Patient" series (page 15), reporter Wilson Criscione talks with experts about what you should do before, during and after surgery to ensure the best possible outcome — and how you can enlist others to advocate for you.
To your health!