15 Steps to Prevent Medical Mistakes and Errors
Medical mistakes and errors continue to be commonplace and are a leading factor in medical malpractice claims. When they occur, doctors and other health care providers can be held accountable, but the damage to you and your loved ones may be irreparable. The following highlights how you can act as your own patient advocate and offers some simple ways to protect yourself against mishaps.
Protecting Yourself Against Medical Errors
Under the Florida Statutes, medical malpractice claims can help hold providers responsible when a mistake puts your health in jeopardy. These errors often involve actions such as missed diagnosis, surgical errors, adverse drug events, and reckless actions which put patients at risk for infection. They can happen at your doctor’s office, in hospitals or emergency rooms, at outpatient clinic, and in nursing homes or long term care facilities.
According to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), medical errors often stem from the highly complex nature of today’s health care system. Automated systems and computer printouts are subject to mistakes, particularly when shared among multiple providers. Part of the problem also stems from a lack of communication, both between patients and their doctors as well as between physicians and other staff members. To prevent these types of situations, follow these tips:
- Make sure to provide your doctor with a complete health history and medical background, including any allergies or adverse reactions you have experienced.
- Inform your doctor of other providers or specialists you are currently seeing.
- Be clear in reporting any symptoms you suffer from and jot down how long you have been having them.
- Keep a list of all medications or supplements you are currently taking and share this information at each appointment.
- If you are prescribed medication, report any side effects immediately.
- If diagnostic testing is ordered, inquire about the potential risks.
- Do not assume ‘no news is good news’. Be persistent in obtaining test results.
- If your doctor recommends other types of treatment, make sure you are clear on what the procedure is and why it is being performed.
- Before going to a hospital or outpatient clinic, check the ratings online through websites such as Medicare’s Hospital Compare.
- Take a friend or other loved one with you the day of the procedure, to ask questions and make observations on your behalf.
- Make sure providers wash their hands and check your chart each time they enter your room.
- If you have an I.V., make sure it is changed regularly to avoid infection.
- To reduce the risk of falls, ask for assistance before getting out of bed.
- Make sure you are clear on any discharge instructions you receive.
- Call your doctor or go back to the hospital is you experience a high level of discomfort or other adverse effects.
Let Us Help You Today
At the Law Firm of William E. Raikes, III, we can help you hold medical providers accountable when mistakes and errors occur. To discuss your particular situation, reach out today and contact our Fort Pierce medical malpractice attorney to request a consultation.