How to Prevent Medical Errors


How to Prevent Medical Errors

Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. The Institute of Medicine reported that as many as 48,000 to 98,000 people die in the US every year as a result of medical errors. No wonder so many people avoid the doctor’s office. Instead of fearing and avoiding we suggest gaining a better understanding of the medical system and procedures that are being done.

When going to the doctor’s office or hospital, you should not have to be afraid to gain clarity on issues, ask questions, or get a second opinion. We compiled a short list of things to help you in protecting yourself from being a victim of medical errors.

Ask questions. A lot of errors come from prescribed medication, so before you are given a new drug or new dose of medication, be sure to ask what it is and why the dosage has changed. Never take medication not knowing what it is being used for.

Have an alert buddy. Whether it is a spouse, family member, or friend, make sure that someone is there who knows your issues and can ask questions when you cannot. This person can often catch a mistake for you or the medical provider by staying alert.

Demand cleanliness. Especially if you are staying in a hospital, request that providers wash their hands before touching you and that your bed sheets are changed regularly. Infections and bed sores are very common in hospitals, and you do not want to add that to your ailments. Don’t be embarrassed to request proper sanitation from providers.

Find a physician or doctor who sincerely cares. You should have trust in your healthcare provider and feel confident that they have listened to all of your concerns whenever you visit with them. Having a doctor who cares helps establish a relationship where you can be open and ask questions and they can know you and diagnoses you in the most appropriate way.

Even at the most well renowned hospitals and with the most educated doctors, mistakes can still be made. By protecting and watching out for yourself, you can help to limit the number of mistakes. Many hospitals are implementing better safety and prevention standards, so that in the future there will be a decrease in the amount of deaths and injuries resulting from medical errors.

Source: “How to Protect Yourself from Medical Errors,” Tyrone M. Reyes, MD November 5, 2013.

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