Medical mistakes are among this country’s leading causes of death and injuries. There are at least 440,000 patient deaths each year in hospitals from preventable medical errors, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Patient Safety.
Do not hesitate to seek a second opinion from another practitioner. After tests, obtain the results to assure that no follow-up care is needed.
Some tests or treatments may be unnecessary. Question why a test or procedure is needed, how it improves your condition or if you are better off without it. Ask your doctor if your treatment is based on the latest studies or research.
Bring in family members or friends for support. They can help keep track of information and speak on your behalf if you cannot.
According to a Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Services study, 88% of medical errors involved an incorrect drug or dosage.
Your doctors should know which prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, supplements, herbs, and vitamins you are taking. Bring all of your medications to a doctor’s visit at least once a year.
Inform your medical providers about your allergies, especially adverse reactions to medications. Double-check the drugs’ ingredients for possible side effects. Medical providers should have all important health care information about you.
Ask for information in plain language when medications are prescribed and when you get them. Obtain written information about their potential side effects and whether you will need medical or emergency care.
Confirm that your doctor prescribed any medications that you get at the pharmacy. Seek clarification about any directions on taking medications. Ask for the best device to measure medications.
These steps help prevent hospital errors:
- Seek treatment at a hospital that specializes in the procedure you are undergoing.
- Make sure that health care workers who have direct contact with you wash their hands to prevent the spread of infections.
- Assure that your doctor and surgeon understand and agree on the surgery that will be performed.
- Upon discharge, ask your doctor to explain your postdischarge treatment plan including medications you will need.
Regardless of your attention and research, practitioners and hospitals may still engage in malpractice. Attorneys can help seek compensation for medical errors.