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HOW TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM OF MEDICAL MISTAKES OR ERRORS

Updated: Jan 3, 2019


Medical errors or negligence is the third leading cause of death and life altering injury.

A 2006 report by the John Hopkins University School of medicine estimated that as many as 250,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year due to medical mistakes or error.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to become an active member of your medical team. Take an interest in what is happening when you are receiving treatment or undergoing a medical intervention. Take part in the decision making process. Studies have shown that the more active you are or the more your participate, the safer the process would be for you.


COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY WITH YOUR MEDICAL TEAM


You can do that by ensuring you communicate effectively with your medical team. Let them know about all your medications, your allergies and all the past major past procedures you have had like surgeries you have undergone.


GET ENOUGH INFORMATION ON THE PROCEDURES


Get information about the procedure, and possible viable alternatives. Discuss this extensively with your doctor until you understand fully the implication of each alternative. Get proper information on the medications and pharmaceutical products prescribed for you, their possible side effects,and the proper dose. Understand the ingredients of the medication and how that affects any allergy you might have.


CONFIRM EVERY INTERVENTION


Ensure that every medical treatment is actually for you and that the method of administration is as recommended. Make sure that the medication dispensed by your pharmacist corresponds with the medication and dose prescribed by your doctor. Read the labels, study the information and ask your pharmacist for any clarification or question you might have.


When choosing a hospital ensure that the hospital has the experience and specialization to deliver quality care. Ensure that hospitals and care givers maintain good hygiene like washing their hands regularly and sanitizing medical instruments.


Before surgery, ensure that you are the right patient, that your medical team agree on the right procedure, and that they have the right site to operate.


When you get discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you will use at home. This includes learning about your medicines and knowing when you can return to normal life.


PARTICIPATE MORE IN YOUR HEALTHCARE


Speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.


Make sure that someone, such as your primary doctor, is in charge of your care. This is especially important if you have several, ongoing health problems.


Ask a family member or friend to support your health. They can help keep track of things and speak up for you if you can’t. Even if you think you don’t need help now, you might need it later.


BEINFORMED ABOUT YOUR ILLNESS, DISEASE OR HEALTH CONDITION


Gather as much information as you can from your doctor. In some cases, you may want to get a second opinion. You can do research on your own as well to make sure you understand your problems and options.


Know that “more” is not always better. Find out why you need a test or treatment and how it can help you. You could be better off without it.


If you have a test, don’t assume that no news is good news. Follow up to get the results.

Ask your doctor if your treatment is based on the latest evidence. Treatment recommendations are available from the National Guidelines Clearinghouse. You also can ask your doctor about new trials or studies.


An overwhelming 88% of medical mistakes involves wrong medication, prescription or dosage. Whenever you get a prescription, be sure of the medication and what dose to take. Check this when you pick up refills at the pharmacy. In the hospital, have in writing the medicine and dose you need. Keep track of this each time the doctor or nurse gives you drugs.


HERE ARE USEFUL QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK YOUR DOCTOR


  • Do I have a health condition?

  • What tests do I need to confirm the condition?

  • What are my treatments options? What are the pros and cons of each option?

  • Are there new trials or studies that I should consider?

  • Do I need to take medicines? If so, what do you recommend?

  • What is the medicine for, or what does it treat?

  • What are the possible side effects, and what do I do if they occur?

  • How do I take the medicine?

  • For how long do I need to take the medicine?

  • Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines?

  • What foods, drinks, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

  • If I need surgery, what is the plan before, during, and after the procedure?

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