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Could Lack of Respect Lead to Medical Errors?

A recent study suggests that respectful treatment by healthcare providers is directly correlated with patient safety. It found that when doctors and nurses view you as person, not just the stroke, appendectomy or pregnancy complication in Room 7, medical errors are less likely to occur.

Consumer Reports surveyed 1,200 people who were hospitalized in the last six months and found that those who rarely felt respected by their healthcare providers were two and a half times more likely to suffer a medical error than those who reported they were treated well.

The Consumer Reports survey defined respectful care as communicating effectively, acting with compassion, honoring patients’ wishes, and acknowledging mistakes. The term “medical errors” included hospital-acquired infections, misdiagnoses, medication mistakes, and other preventable adverse events. Nearly 30 percent of the patients reported that an error occurred.

Approximately one in four patients surveyed said that medical staff did not consistently treat them “like a person” or capable of participating in their own healthcare decisions. One-third of those surveyed reported that their healthcare team failed to listen to them without interrupting, and 34 percent felt that their wishes about treatment were not always honored. Even more alarming, 21 percent of patients felt that they were not always treated fairly and without discrimination.

As San Diego medical malpractice lawyers, the results are concerning, but not surprising. Prior research has found that hospitals that emphasize mutual respect between caregivers and patients provide higher quality care. As noted by Harvard Medical School researchers, “Creating a culture of respect in health care is part of the larger challenge of creating a culture of safety.”

To help improve your hospital experience and avoid medical errors, patients are encouraged to take an active role in their care, which can include asking questions, taking notes, being assertive yet polite, and appointing a loved one to serve as your advocate.