How You Can Avoid Medical Mistakes: 10 Tips for Patient Safety
Medical mistakes are the cause of approximately 225,000 deaths and 1.5 million injuries in the U.S. Many of these medical errors might have been prevented with improved communication between patients and medical professionals. Sometimes when people are communicating with their doctor, they feel too intimidated to ask questions, or they might feel rushed. However, consumers should understand that they are not completely powerless when dealing with doctors and other medical professionals.
Here are ten tips for patients to help promote safety when dealing with healthcare professionals:
- Become an informed and proactive healthcare consumer.
- Make sure that your doctors are aware of all of the medicines you are taking. Inform them of any allergies or adverse reactions you have to medications. When you get a new prescription, make sure that you know exactly what the medication is. Ask about the possible side effects, whether or not it should be taken with food, and the possible adverse interactions with the other medications you might be taking.
- Do your research and choose a hospital (if possible) that has demonstrated experiences with the procedure you are having done.
- When you visit the doctor’s office, if you don’t see the doctor wash his or her hands, ask them if they have washed their hands to protect yourself from the spread of infections.
- Before you go in for surgery, make sure that you speak with your doctor about the procedure. Do you clearly understand what is going to be done, what the risks are and what outcome you can expect?
- When you leave the hospital, ask the doctor to explain the treatment plan you will follow at home.
- Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have about your healthcare. Learn as much as you can about your health conditions and don’t hesitate to seek out a second opinion.
- Make sure that your doctor has complete information about your medical history.
- If your doctor hands you a brochure that you don’t understand or uses words that you don’t understand, ask for a clear explanation.
- Bring a close family member or friend with you to the hospital to act as your healthcare advocate.
Clear communication between patients and their doctors can be a vital element in avoiding medical mistakes. Improving the relationship between patients and their doctors can play an important role in reducing medical malpractice according to the National Academies. Taking a proactive approach and not being intimidated by health professionals are your most effective weapons in the fight to prevent medical errors.
The information contained in this blog post is general information, and should not be treated as legal advice. No attorney/client relationship exists between the reader and Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott, LLC without a signed Attorney Contract Agreement of Representation. Each case is unique and past results should not be treated as a guarantee of the results in your case.