Maybe Ive simply been lucky because after having both hips and a knee replaced over a period of three years at a Chicago hospital, I came away impressed with the quality of the care I received. I didnt end up with any infections or other preventable complications, and the nurses and doctors were highly professional. But Ive also talked to many friends and acquaintances who tell me stories about the care they received that are anything but laudatory. For many people, going to the hospital is a dangerous business.
Even Dennis OLeary, the soon to be retired head of the Joint Commission, told this magazine last year that he would not want to be admitted to a hospital as a patient without having someone along with him to help monitor his care. In his own words he suggested: I would bring someone with me and have them stay the night, and I would always be asking questions. I think caregivers find that helpful, and it prevents them from making human errors. If I go to a hospital, I know Im vulnerable, and I will do what I can to protect caregivers from unintentionally harming me. If Im apprehensive, Im the same as John Q. Public. If the head of an organization responsible for accrediting healthcare institutions feels that way, then I would think we would all agree we have to take heed.