If you regularly follow this blog, you are likely aware of the risks of
medical errors. If you are not yet a loyal follower, you should understand
that medical errors are one of the leading causes of death and injury
in this country.
Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend
to get better results. Therefore, today’s post offers some specific
tips for protecting yourself from a medical error.
- Make sure that all of your doctors know about everything you are taking.
This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, and dietary
supplements such as vitamins and herbs.
- Ask for information about your medicines in terms you can understand—both
when your medicines are prescribed and when you receive them. If you have
questions, be sure to ask.
- When your doctor writes you a prescription, make sure you can read it.
If you can’t read your doctor’s handwriting, your pharmacist
might not be able to either.
- When you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine
that my doctor prescribed?
- If you have a choice, choose a hospital at which many patients have the
procedure or surgery you need. Research shows that patients tend to have
better results when they are treated in hospitals that have a great deal
of experience with their condition.
- If you are in a hospital, consider asking all health care workers who have
direct contact with 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 use at home.
- 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 personal doctor, is in charge of your
care. This is especially important if you have many health problems or
are in a hospital.
- Make sure that all health professionals involved in your care have important
health information about you.
- Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and to be your advocate
(someone who can help get things done and speak up for you if you can’t).