Chances are you or your loved ones will need to be hospitalized at some point. Reduce the chances of a medical mistake by following Dr. Oz's  eight steps.

Dr. Oz says there's a straightforward advantage to staying infection-free in a hospital. "You're in an environment that has sick people in it who have infections themselves," he says. "It's so easy to spread to you."
  • Ask people to wash their hands before touching you.
  • Keep hand sanitizer by your bed.
  • Try to avoid bacteria-promoting items, like flowers and jewelry.
  • Ask doctors to clean their stethoscopes. "Did you ever think where the stethoscope was before he examined you?" Dr. Oz says. "It was on someone else's chest, and that same bacteria gets carried to you."
  • Clean television remotes.
  • Ask a doctor to remove his tie, or else tuck it into his shirt. "How many men here have ever washed their tie?" Dr. Oz says. "Nobody. No one washes a tie. Doctors don't either." 
Avoid wrong-site surgery
When Dr. Oz's wife, Lisa, went in for corrective eye surgery, he says she was the victim of a medical error. "They set the device for her right eye and put it on her left eye," he says. "[It] almost blinded her."

One way a patient can prevent this kind of "wrong-site surgery" error is a simple as writing a note. "If you're going to have surgery on your left arm, write 'Operate on this arm' [on your left arm]," Dr. Oz says.

Don't distract your doctor
Hospitals can be very hectic places, and small talk could distract your doctor. "I know you're trying to be polite, and they're trying to be polite talking back to you," Dr. Oz says. "But let them do their job."

Choose a high-tech hospital
For instance, if a hospital in your area uses bar code technology to organize treatment and medication, go to that hospital. "You will dramatically reduce the risks," Dr. Oz says.

Does your hospital use a "preflight" checklist?
Dr. Oz says this is like the preflight list pilots use before takeoff to prevent simple, preventable mistakes. "It turns out that if you have a simple checklist—like use a sterile cloth or drape if you're going to put a catheter in some patient—you can reduce the infection rates about 85 percent. That probably saved in the last 18 months 1,500 lives," he says.

Do your research
Dr. Oz recommends researching your hospital using resources from the Joint Commission, a health safety watchdog organization. By going to a high-ranked hospital, Dr. Oz says you are rewarding excellence and forcing other hospitals to improve themselves. "Pick the places you want to get the care you desire," he says. "Those places will thrive, and other hospitals want to be like them."

Resources to find the right doctor for you

Get to know your hospitalist
Your regular doctor is your go-to gal for for the coordination of all your illnesses and treatments. But, they aren't around when you're in the hospital. That's where a hospitalist steps in.

Meet the new providers of primary medical care

"They know all the programs and the protocols. They're going to work closely with you to make sure you get what you need done," Dr. Oz says. "Find that person, learn who they are and work with them. That's the person that's going to help you get out of there quickly."

Make yourself into a smart patient
The key to being a smart patient is being proactive about your care, Dr. Oz says. If you hear a doctor say something that doesn't sound right to you, speak up. "If you're on medications, know what they are so you can say: 'Wait a minute. I'm supposed to get four; you just gave me a fifth one. What's going on here?'"

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As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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