Medical errors are one of the Nation’s leading causes of death and injury. How can you prevent medical errors? First it is important to understand what is a medical error. Any preventable occurrence in the care and treatment of a patient that results in an adverse outcome, is a medical error. When a preventable occurrence takes place it is extremely important to find out why it happened and who is responsible for the consequences of the error.
Not all bad outcomes are due to medical malpractice so it is important to consult with an experienced patient safety advocate that has experience in investigating medical claims. Errors can involve medicines, surgery, medical equipment, lab or xray errors as well as improper or delayed diagnoses. The Institute of Medicine and other agencies have reported that as many as 100,000 people die each year due to medical errors. Why is this and what can be done?
The number of people that die due to medical errors exceeds the number of deaths from car accidents,breast cancer or AIDS. This number does not include mistakes that cause preventable harm but not death. There are a number of things that can be done to help prevent or reduce errors and to increase hospital safety.
There are a number of initiatives underway to improve healthcare and to protect patients. The physician-patient relationship is a two-way street and your active involvement will help keep you safe. Here are a few suggestions on how you can help.
- Make sure you have a list of all your medications and carry them with you to the doctor or hospital.
- Make sure you update your doctor or hospital on any allergies or adverse reactions you have to medications.
- Speak up if you have questions or concerns.
- Be proactive with your health care by researching the hospital or doctor that you are going to be treated by and choose your caregiver based upon the experience they have with your condition.
- Make sure that you can read a prescription written by your doctor and ask him to write it clearly if there is any question.
- Finally, research your condition on the web and consider our resources at https://www.mishkindlaw.com or a great website packed with valuable information at http://www.guidelines.gov The more you know and are involved in your care the less likely you will be a victim of preventable medical errors.