While not all medical or surgical errors cause injury, some can result in disfigurement or permanent disability. Tragically, they can also end in death. Although there are no guarantees that a patient won’t become a victim, there are measures that can at least reduce the risk.
Things a Patient Can Do to Reduce the Risk of a Medical Error
1. Be informed.
If being discharged from the hospital, make sure you understand the treatment plan and follow-up care requirements. Be sure you understand any new medications you were prescribed, including the correct dosage and how to store them. Make sure you also understand the possible side effects and complications of medications, a procedure, etc.
2. Share information.
Tell healthcare providers about any supplements, prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications you are taking. Also inform them about any known allergies. And make sure they have an accurate, thorough medical history.
3. Ask questions.
Ask why a treatment (procedure, medication, etc.) is being recommended and inquire about its possible risks. If confused about directions or instructions, ask for clarification.
4. Speak up.
If you believe the healthcare provider made a mistake or doesn’t understand what you just told him or her, speak up! Don’t be afraid to voice any concerns you have about your care and condition. Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page and that you feel comfortable with the care you are receiving.
5. Require good hygiene.
If you don’t personally witness a healthcare provider wash his/her hands, ask them if they washed up and/or request that they do. Or if there are concerns about cleanliness or sanitation in the hospital room, let the nurses, doctors or other staff know about it.
6. Verify the surgical procedure.
To avoid becoming the victim of a wrong site or wrong patient surgery, verify which part of the body the surgeon will operate upon and which procedure he or she will perform. Request the area be marked before undergoing anesthesia. Have the doctor explain one more time before going into the operating room which procedure he or she will perform.
7. Get an advocate.
Ask a friend or family member to come along to appointments when there are serious health problems to get another set of ears listening to the doctor’s explanation and recommendations. Request their presence before undergoing surgery so that someone else can ask questions or verify information.
If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, contact an attorney at 800-246-4878 today to discuss legal action.