Kansas attorneys offer common sense tips to prevent the most common medical errors
According to a new review of 337,000 patient cases, disability or death were the result of about 12 percent of the most common preventable medical errors, and topping the list of the most preventable medical errors were those related to medication.
Overall, one in 20 patients suffered harm as a result of the most common preventable medical errors, said a study by The BMJ. The study used analyses and other information collected from 2000-2019 in the United States, Europe and elsewhere. The study was posted on MarketWatch, a financial information website.
Another study by Johns Hopkins Medicine released in 2016 found medical errors (over 250,000) to be the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind heart disease (611,105) and cancer (584,881).
Avoiding preventable medical errors
Here are recommendations to avoid the most common preventable medical errors:
- Make sure you fully understand any procedure or medication your doctor is recommending — and why
- Brief the doctor on your allergies, health conditions and the medications you take
Ensure that anyone accompanying you to the hospital or a medical visit also has this information. It also helps to have the information written down for medical personnel to read.
- Don’t assume every provider has access to all of your health-care information
Instead, be prepared to communicate with each individual doctor. It also doesn’t hurt to check on the medical history in your file, if possible, because that can contain incorrect information.
- Bring a friend or family member to meetings with doctors and other medical specialists, especially if you have a weak grasp of health terms or have trouble communicating
The prospect of hospitalization can leave many people at less than full capacity. Having a friend or family member there can help because they can monitor and speak up for you, if necessary, to avoid a medical error.
- Keep track of your medications and results
Double-check with health professionals and pharmacists that the type and dose of medication is the correct one for your condition, especially if this is the first time you’ve received this medication or if it’s a big change in dosage.
- Make sure your doctor washes his or her hands
Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of spreading infection, but not all health-care providers practice proper hand hygiene. It might be intimidating or uncomfortable to call out your doctor, but it’s important to speak up.
Suggestions on how to convey your concerns include: “Could you please wash your hands?” or “I might have missed it, but can you please make sure you wash your hands before you examine me?”
- Research wisely
Learn the risks and benefits of a procedure but get information from reputable sources like the Mayo Clinic or U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Avoid falling into the trap of arriving at the doctor’s office with a predetermined idea about your condition.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up — especially women
The likelihood of an error decreases if you are willing to speak up with questions or if you sense something is wrong.
Speaking up can be especially important for women because research shows they are more likely to be under-treated for pain, less likely to have their symptoms taken seriously and more likely to be misdiagnosed.
Contact Warner Law Offices of Kansas today for help with cases of the most common preventable medical errors, as well as for help with any medical malpractice and personal injury cases.