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What Are 20 Tips That I Can Use To Help Prevent Medical Errors During Medical Care and Treatment?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, has published a fact sheet entitled "20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors." They are reprinted here for your benefit and convenience. We hope that this information can help prevent you or someone close to you from being a victim of medical errors or medical negligence. If you believe you or someone close to you has been the victim of medical errors, medical negligence, or medical malpractice contact the Medical Malpractice Law Group of Advocates Law Firm so that we can investigate your potential claim.
- What Can You Do? Be Involved in Your Health Care
- The single most important way you can help to prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team.
- That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. Some specific tips, based on the latest scientific evidence about what works best, follow.
- At least once a year, bring all of your medicines and supplements with you to your doctor. "Brown bagging" your medicines can help you and your doctor talk about them and find out if there are any problems. It can also help your doctor keep your records up to date, which can help you get better quality care.
- This can help you avoid getting a medicine that can harm you.
- If you can't read your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either.
- What is the medicine for?
- How am I supposed to take it, and for how long?
- What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
- Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
- What food, drink, or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
- A study by the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences found that 88 percent of medicine errors involved the wrong drug or the wrong dose.
- Medicine labels can be hard to understand. For example, ask if "four doses daily" means taking a dose every 6 hours around the clock or just during regular waking hours.
- Research shows that many people do not understand the right way to measure liquid medicines. For example, many use household teaspoons, which often do not hold a true teaspoon of liquid. Special devices, like marked syringes, help people to measure the right dose. Being told how to use the devices helps even more.
- If you know what might happen, you will be better prepared if it does—or, if something unexpected happens instead. That way, you can report the problem right away and get help before it gets worse. A study found that written information about medicines can help patients recognize problem side effects and then give that information to their doctor or pharmacist.
- Research shows that patients tend to have better results when they are treated in hospitals that have a great deal of experience with their condition.
- Handwashing is an important way to prevent the spread of infections in hospitals. Yet, it is not done regularly or thoroughly enough. A recent study found that when patients checked whether health care workers washed their hands, the workers washed their hands more often and used more soap.
- This includes learning about your medicines and finding out when you can get back to your regular activities. Research shows that at discharge time, doctors think their patients understand more than they really do about what they should or should not do when they return home.
- Doing surgery at the wrong site (for example, operating on the left knee instead of the right) is rare. But even once is too often. The good news is that wrong-site surgery is 100 percent preventable. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons urges its members to sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery.
- You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.
- This is especially important if you have many health problems or are in a hospital.
- Do not assume that everyone knows everything they need to.
- Even if you think you don't need help now, you might need it later.
- Ask about the results.
- For example, treatment recommendations based on the latest scientific evidence are available from the National Guidelines Clearinghouse(TM) at http://www.guideline.gov. Ask your doctor if your treatment is based on the latest evidence.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or loss caused by medical malpractice, medical negligence, or medical mistake, please contact our Medical Malpractice Law Group to arrange a free and confidential consultation.