Medical errors are among the top causes of injuries and death in the nation — which makes it important to your health and safety to know what you can do to prevent them.
Remember: Patients aren’t powerless! Here are some tips every patient can use to prevent medical errors:
1. Become part of your medical team.
You are a vital part of your own medical team, so don’t let yourself be “benched” by doctors who want to run the show. Remember that you are ultimately in charge of your own medical care and you have the right to ask questions, voice complaints and even refuse treatment if you don’t think it’s right.
2. Insist on coordinated care.
A lot of mistakes happen because more than one doctor is involved and no one person is running the show. Insist that your primary care doctor step up and coordinate your care, particularly if you have more than one chronic condition.
3. Consider taking someone with you to appointments.
Having a second person in the room when you’re being seen by the doctor can help in several different ways. It can bolster your confidence if you’re usually reluctant to ask questions. The other person can also help remind you of questions you need to ask or conditions you need to discuss. Finally, a friend or relative can help you remember what the doctor said later — which can help you guard against forgotten details.
4. Always do your own follow-ups.
If you have blood work done or a medical test, don’t wait on the doctor’s office to call with results. Follow up if you don’t hear from the office within a few days. Many medical centers now give patients online access to their records, so make sure you sign up to receive reports whenever possible.
If you are injured due to a medical mistake, it’s important to consider your long-term needs as a result. Consider seeking more information about your legal options as soon as possible.