Preventing Medical Errors

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With the increasing complexities of the health systems today it may be easier for some medical errors to occur. This may worry some people and rightly so. Unexpected and unwanted results may happen and may be caused by a medical or computer error. Planned medical care procedures may not go exactly as planned. Errors can and will occur anywhere in the health care system and can do with medication, treatments, identity, or as simple as being given the wrong meal. One of the leading causes of death and injury is medical errors with at least as many as 50,000 people dying in American hospitals each year. With more people dying from medical error than car crashes or AIDS; this is a problem that deserves everyone’s attention.

Medical error refers to overwrought doctors or nurses who accidentally do something lethal when dealing with a patient. This could be an excessive dosage of drugs, or accidentally snipping a blood vessel required to live. Believe it or not, there have been many cases of patients having the wrong leg or arm operated on, which has led to the practice of writing “NOT THIS LEG” or “NOT THIS ARM” on the limb that does not need an operation.

Of course while doctors and government agencies work towards a safer and more effective healthcare system there are things that you can do to help. Form a partnership with your healthcare providers. Get to know them and let them get to know you. Become as involved with your own healthcare as you expect the physician handling your case to be. Take part in all decisions relating to your health care. Better results are achieved when you can communicate openly with your doctor to clear up misunderstandings and relay your wishes. Making sure that you receive the proper care is also your responsibility, so don’t let a little embarrassment get in the way of good accurate medical care. A little embarrassment is worth it when it comes to you or your loved ones health and the care that you receive. This kind of good communication can save your life.

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommend that if you are a patient in a hospital you should speak up for yourself if you notice something that you don’t understand. Know your medications, what they are for, when to take them, and how to take them and bring a list of them with you to the visit. Understand what is expected to occur, how, where, and when. Making sure someone knows what your name is and repeat information to all that you feel needs to know about your visit. Don’t just assume that everyone involved in your care knows what is going on with you. Find out what your tests results are and don’t assume that just because you don’t hear anything that everything is ok. Don’t get forgotten in the hospital. If you have a private physician then make sure that doctor is the one in charge of your care to reduce identity errors.

So if you need the services of a medical professional or are admitted to a hospital, or having to visit outpatient clinic, emergency rooms, please take the time to make it known that you mean business when it comes to your health. Make sure that you build a partnership with your medical professionals as they are the ones that will be caring for you in possibly your most vulnerable moments. Teamwork in this area is the key to reducing some of the medical errors that occur in hospitals today. That team includes you, your doctor, healthcare staff, nurses, and clerical worker. Just be patient with the crew as they are trying their best to keep you alive. While being patient, also be cautious. Eventually you will figure out the best combination so as to be the perfect patient.

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