Medical Error: How You Can Protect Yourself

Too often, perhaps, we accept with little question the idea that doctors and medical professionals know what’s best, and patients are hesitant to question that authority. But the fact is, they’re not infallible. Prior to Covid-19, hospital and medical errors were the third leading cause of death in the United States – right behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. One in three people who are hospitalized suffer harm, injury or infection from medical mistakes, and the consequences can be long-term and far reaching
There are several factors that contribute to hospital and medical mistakes – doctors become overworked or burned out, poor teamwork and communications, and unsatisfactory training among them. Professionals in the field are developing a consensus on how to better train and build teams and implement better preventive protocols – but you as a patient can take steps to ensure you’re protected against — or in the event of — medical error:

Keep a Medical Diary

Write everything down – notes about your condition, your medications and what they’re for, and when and why they were prescribed. Keep detailed records of your visits with medical professionals and write down what was said during each session. Also, note any tests given, what the results were, and record all discussions with caregivers – any questions asked, and what the answers were.

Medication Log

List your medicines in a separate log and monitor the dosages. Keep notes on discussions with your doctor and pharmacist and make note of any change in medication and the reasons given for it.

Have a Buddy

Ask a friend, relative, or partner to stay with you while in treatment or during hospital/doctor visits. They can be your backup and extra set of eyes and ears.

Have a Living Will

It’s a hard thing to talk about, but inestimably important to have your wishes known and documented in the event you are incapacitated. Make sure your family and your doctor have a copy of your Living Will and know what your decisions and wishes are.

Do Your Research

Research your hospital’s safety rating and don’t be afraid to ask the Administrator questions about what protocols they have in place for improvements and upgrades. There are several resources you can use online to find your hospital’s rating, such as The Leapfrog Group.

You, as the patient, have the right to be a part of your treatment and care, and you should not feel intimidated or hesitant to ask questions and expect answers from your physician and medical personnel. Your life and health are important, and you have every right to know how your treatment is being handled and why. It is not only permissible, but imperative, for you to make yourself as integral a part of your medical team as your Primary Care Physician.

In the event that you believe you have experienced harm from medical error, please call us at 304-720-2351. (make click to call) We will be happy to meet with you for a free consultation.

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The Leapfrog Group