Tips to Reduce Risk of Patient Mix-Ups

Not all medical errors are preventable. But there are some that should never occur. One example is when doctors or other medical professionals mix up patients.

Patient mix-ups can happen in a variety of circumstances such as: 

  • when receiving treatment;
  • when receiving medication; or
  • undergoing a medical procedure.

There are things you can do that may help reduce this risk of medical errors, though.

Verify Information is Correct

Sometimes patients feel intimidated about verifying information with a medical professional. But it’s your health and you have the right to question or confirm treatment and care. This can be a very important step in medical error prevention.

When speaking with doctors about a procedure and right before, verify: 

  • the type of procedure being performed (including the site/side);
  • your name on the chart/ID bracelet; and/or
  • the medication being administered through an IV.

Whenever someone new becomes involved in your treatment, such as a nurse on a different shift or another specialist, make sure he/she verifies your name.

If picking medication up from the pharmacy, ask what it does and what it treats. This way you can make sure it lines up with what you need and what the doctor prescribed so you can avoid a potential pharmacy error. As always, verify that your name is on the prescription bottle.

Bring Along a Friend or Family Member

Having two sets of eyes and ears instead of one can also help reduce the risk of a patient mix-up.

Circumstances in which someone should have his or her medications reviewed, if: 

  • elderly;
  • incapacitated; or
  • taking medication that has an effect on cognition.

It can also be helpful when someone is nervous about undergoing a procedure. Not only does this provide emotional support but it could also aid in catching any type of mistake, including patient mix-ups.

Speak Up if Something is Amiss

If something doesn’t sound right, speak up. Don’t assume you misheard or the doctor simply misspoke. For instance, if you believe the doctor said someone else’s name or is looking at the wrong chart, say something.

Or if the name/description of a procedure sounds different than what you were originally told, ask questions. Sometimes patient names are misspelled even though it’s the right patient. But don’t automatically assume that’s the case.

Bring it to a doctor or nurse’s attention if you notice a misspelling on: 

  • a medication bottle;
  • lab work;
  • the label of a chart; or
  • other medical records.
What to Do If You Believe You Suffered Injury from Patient Mix-up 

Patient mix-ups are many times caught before it causes harm to the patient. And even when they aren’t, it doesn’t always mean that legal action is warranted. However, if a mix-up resulted in serious injuries, then it would be worthwhile to talk to an attorney.

Of course, it will be up to you to prove the medical professional’s negligence directly caused injuries you sustained. It’s best to act quickly if you believe the medical professional made a mistake, especially if there isn’t an outright admittance. It will be critical to preserve and gather evidence as soon as possible.

Consulting with legal counsel will not only help determine if there is a claim, but it can also establish the types of damages that you may recover. For instance, if the mix-up resulted in an extended hospitalization or the necessity to undergo new or additional treatment, those additional medical costs could be included in your claim. Or if it causes you to miss time from work, the claim may address lost wages.

When the injuries were severe, it might be possible to recover compensation for damages such as pain and suffering, mental anguish and more. An attorney will evaluate the impact this type of mistake has had not only physically but emotionally as well.

Get started by setting up a consultation with an attorney at Gacovino, Lake & Associates. Call us at (800) 550-0000 or contact us online.

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