13 Ways to Protect Yourself from Medical Errors
A newly released study highlighted the striking rise in preventable medical errors of more than 300,000 adult patients was published on July 17, 2019 in the medical journal, The BMJ. The data collected represented 1 in 10 patients harmed in the course of their medical care, half of which were preventable.
The study found:
- Most patient harms were related to medication and accounted for 49 percent of preventable errors.
- Injuries resulting from surgical procedures accounted 23 percent of the time.
- Shockingly, among the preventable errors, 12 percent led to a patient’s permanent disability or death.
- Health care infections and misdiagnoses each accounted for 16 percent of the harms.
Communication breakdowns between medical staff, electronic medical records, and physician burnout were also significant patient harms observed.
The researchers expressed, “This is one of the largest studies ever conducted on the frequency and severity of patient harm. And it provides evidence that these harms occur in all medical care settings. It’s a problem that needs our attention.”
What to Discuss with Your Doctor to Help Prevent Their Mistakes
The Institute of Medicine concludes that medical errors result in the deaths of as many as 98,000 Americans each year. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provides a patient fact sheet to help prevent medical errors. Here is a shortened review of that document for our blog readers.
- Make sure that all of your doctors know about every medicine you are taking.
- Bring all of your medicines and supplements to your doctor visits.
- Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
- When your doctor writes a prescription for you, make sure you can read it.
- Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand—both when your drugs are prescribed and when you get them:
- What is the medicine for?
- How am I supposed to take it and for how long?
- What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
- Is this medicine safe to take with other drugs or dietary supplements I am taking?
- What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
- When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?
- If you have any questions about the directions on your medicine labels, ask.
- Ask your pharmacist for the best device to measure your liquid medicine.
- Ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause.
- If you are in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who will touch you whether they have washed their hands.
- When you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you will follow at home.
- If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done.
- If you have a choice, choose a hospital where many patients have had the procedure or surgery you need.
It should not be the responsibility of a patient to oversee the care provided by a trained and trusted medical professional. But this list can help a surgeon, nurse, physician, or anyone in charge of your care to pause and review their practices to prevent making a mistake and help ease any anxieties a patient may have.
Take Action Against Medical Malpractice
If you have experienced medical malpractice in Chicago or throughout Illinois, take action immediately. Contact Levin & Perconti online or call us at 877-374-1417 or 312-332-2872 to set up a free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.