Hospitals in New York and across the country are being pushed to reduce medical errors. Although the hospital is responsible for the safety of its patients, there are steps that people can take before or during a hospitalization to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of a mistake.

If a hospitalization is not an emergency, an individual can consult various government and private websites to review a particular facility's safety records against its competitors. Another important thing to know is who will be coordinating an individual's care while in the hospital. It may be the patient's primary care physician, or it may be a practitioner employed by the hospital. Knowing who is in charge makes it easier to know whom to ask if there are questions. A patient may also considering bringing someone along to advocate on his or her behalf, particularly if the patient is not physically or mentally able to do so.

Patients should not be embarrassed about asking medical professionals to wash their hands. Hospital-acquired infections occur in an estimated one in 25 patients. Those who are hospitalized should feel free to ask questions about their care and expect a complete and understandable answer. Because adverse drug events can be serious, patients should also bring along their current medications in order to minimize the likelihood of a doctor prescribing a drug with a negative interaction. The final discharge instructions should be carefully reviewed

A person who has been hospitalized and suffered a negative outcome despite taking recommended precautions may consider consulting with a medical malpractice attorney. A review of the patient's medical records may result in a determination that there was a failure to exhibit the required standard of care on the part of one or more practitioners or other hospital employees.

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