2 things hospitals do that you should avoid

New recommendations aim to eliminate unsafe hospital practices

Published: August 20, 2013 11:30 AM

If you or someone you care for is in the hospital, you should watch out for two practices that patients are often subjected to, but often are not necessary. Those include the insertion of a urinary catheter, and being prescribed drugs to prevent ulcers. Both increase the risk of developing an infection in the hospital.

That caution comes from the Society of Hospital Medicine, a group that represents 35,000 doctors across the country who specialize in hospital care. The warnings are part of a broader national campaign called Choosing Wisely that aims to weed out tests and procedures that are blatantly overused, and that have needlessly added risks (and costs) to your family's care.

For more on hospital safety, see our hospital Ratings and our guide to safer surgery.

Urinary catheters are tubes often inserted into hospital patients to drain and collect urine from the bladder. But they are used about twice as often as necessary, often lead to urinary tract infections and other complications, and contribute to 13,000 deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in extra medical costs each year, the hospital group says. 

Up to 71 percent of hospital patients are prescribed ulcer drugs, including proton-pump inhibitors such as esomeprazole (Nexium) or H2 blockers such as ranitidine (Zantac). The vast majority of them don't need the drugs. And people who take those drugs in the hospital face an increased risk of developing pneumonia and of being infected with the bacteria C. dificile, which is often hard to treat with antibiotics.

See a complete list of topics that the hospital group considers often unnecessary for hospital patients.

—David Ansley

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