By Kate Bongiovanni, REDBOOK
Hospitals and ERs can be shockingly unhealthy places, says Joe Graedon, coauthor of the new book Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. Mistakes are scarily common: One intensive care unit that tracked its errors found that staffers made an average of 1.7 missteps per patient per day. You can make the difference by following this advice if you or anyone you love is hospitalized.
1. Insist on clean hands (and everything else).
An estimated one in 20 patients picks up an infection at the hospital. The best way to protect yourself? Ask everyone who comes in contact with you, even visitors, to wash his or her hands before touching you. "On average, doctors really only wash up between patients about a third of the time," says Peter Pronovost, M.D., author of Safe Patients, Smart Hospitals. You can also request that stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs, as well as bed rails and the TV remote, be disinfected with a wipe, says Graedon.
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