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How Quality Affects You
Here are some examples of how health care quality can affect you or your loved one:
Maria was an active 70-year-old who went into the hospital for hip-replacement surgery. The operation went well, but afterward Maria developed a life-threatening infection because her urinary catheter had not been properly managed by the hospital staff. She spent two weeks in the ICU recuperating. This slowed Maria's recovery from the hip surgery and ran up her medical bills. This type of medical error is preventable and can be avoided in most cases by following correct medical procedures.
Shortly after he noticed chest pains and a strange sensation in his arm, 56-year-old Frank called 911 and was rushed to the hospital. Doctors in the emergency room determined that he had experienced a heart attack. They performed a procedure called a cardiac catheterization, in which a catheter is inserted into an artery near the patient's groin and guided up to the heart. A dye injected into the catheter allows doctors to see the condition of arteries on an X-ray called an angiogram. Although the standard procedure is to examine only the left side of the heart, the doctors examined both sides of Frank's heart. By getting more medical tests than he needed, Frank was put at greater risk for life-threatening complications.
Months before her baby was due, 32-year-old Lisa was happy to learn that her obstetrician had privileges at a hospital with excellent ratings for vaginal births (versus C-sections) and breastfeeding support. The night after a smooth delivery, Lisa learned that a nurse had given her son formula while she slept. Lisa was upset because she had asked to be woken up to breastfeed. The nurse apologized, saying she was only trying to let the new mother rest. While the nurse had good intentions and Lisa still could continue breastfeeding her baby, the nurse didn't take Lisa's preferences into consideration. Respecting the specific needs and requests of patients is a crucial part of care.
After feeling ill and weak for several days, 84-year-old Thomas had his daughter drive him to the hospital. It was busy in the emergency room, so they had to wait for hours. The doctor he finally saw determined that he had bacterial pneumonia. Because of the time delay, Thomas did not receive antibiotics within six hours of his arrival, which studies have shown to improve the treatment of his condition. As a result, Thomas had to be hospitalized for several days and didn't recover as quickly as he might have if he had gotten antibiotics sooner. When it comes to medical treatment, timing can be critical.
These examples show how various aspects of quality care — safety, effectiveness, patient-centered care, and timeliness — can affect patients' well-being when health care professionals do not perform their jobs as they should.