How Patients Can Help Prevent Medical Errors

Despite the advances of modern medicine, an alarming number of people are harmed by medical malpractice. In one study of Medicare patients, researchers found that one in seven experienced some kind of harm as a result of their medical care. According to a comprehensive study, up to 100,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors.

Medical personnel have a duty to provide you with a high level of care, but there are also things you can do as a patient to help prevent medical errors.

The most important thing to remember during a hospital stay or any other medical treatment is that you must be your own advocate. Learn the names of your doctors and nurses; this helps you hold them accountable and encourages them to think of you as a person instead of a bed number. Be sure you understand what procedures are to be done as part of your treatment and why they are being performed. Do not hesitate to ask questions about your care or to ask for assistance when you need it.

During a hospital stay, learn what medications you are supposed to be taking and ask questions if a nurse or nurse’s aide presents you with something different. Medication errors are common, and they are preventable.

Depending on your medical condition, you may not always be able to personally follow up with medical personnel. In these situations, make sure that a family member is present who knows all the details of your condition and can advocate for your treatment.

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