Singled out as the most pathetic cause of innocent deaths in the US, medical errors are now a gnawing problem in the US medical industry. Some tips on how to avoid deaths due to medical errors forms the contents of this article.
It is scary but true that in the US, thousands of people die every year due to medical errors. Not surprising that increasingly large number of patients and families are filing medical malpractice lawsuits. Even though with stern punishments and heavy monetary losses suffered by doctors, it is a fact that medical errors continue to rise in US. Given the scope and extent of treatment for a disease, the possibility of a grave errors can’t be completely ruled out. However, deaths on such a large scale have certainly raised many fingers regarding credibility of the health care market in the US. Medical errors commonly involve cases of wrong medicine prescriptions, surgical blunders, wrong diagnosis, improper medical equipment usage and misinterpreted lab reports. Even a normal and simple medical check up can be fraught with little mistakes can prove to be fatal for the patient, in the long run.
Preventing Medical Errors
The health care system has become a complex mesh of numerous medical professionals, providing treatments in parts, at different levels. To avoid medical errors, the solution is to streamline the process of diagnosis and treatment of a disease. Increasing number of patients in hospitals and stress on medical professionals has certainly taken a heavy toll on their mental concentration and focus. Many times, medical errors stem from misunderstandings and poor communication between the doctor and the patient or family members. To avoid them, following tips must be followed, without fail.
► Inform everything about your past and present health status to the doctor while going for a medical check up. Don’t hesitate to share anything, even if it seems a minor symptom.
► Don’t always choose a doctor by searching on the Internet. It is best to go through referrals of friends, relatives and close acquaintances to a medical doctor. This helps you to build a feeling of trust with the doctor. Don’t only go for expensive hospitals, as they may not always turn out to be the right one.
► Don’t assume anything. If you feel you must know something, ask about it. It doesn’t matter if it is with respect to a lab report, diagnosis results or even the meaning of a simple medical term, that you are not able to understand. It is your right to know everything about your treatment.
► Choose pathology labs with a great track record. Mixing of blood samples or swabs is tragic and can give your doctor a completely wrong notion about your disease. For your health and longevity, such a step can be fatal.
► In cases of negative test reports that doesn’t go with your current health status, immediately get the results reviewed. Preferably go for the tests again.
► Before deciding to go for a surgical operation, sit with your surgeon, family members and discuss all pros and cons. Don’t keep questions in your mind regarding what needs to be done. Ask them every doubt you have in your mind.
► Check out if medical professionals are taking your adequate care in the hospital. You should not tolerate poor service, as you pay for hospital stay. Complain to senior doctors, if you are not being heard.
► Get your medicinal prescriptions written properly. If you are not in a habit of taking medicines on time, you may end up eating a wrong one at the scheduled time, due to rush and negligence.
► Ask your pharmacist to check the expiry date of the medicine he or she is giving you.
► Ask your doctor regarding risks of any treatment or medication that he is suggesting you.
► Always take medicines as per the dosage prescribed by the medical practitioner.
► Have a well documented copy your past medical history.
► Always visit a hospital with a family member or friend, if you are very sick or if you are going for an important check up. A second ear can help you to remember things that you might forget in the normal working days. Moreover, the presence of your closed ones, helps you to stay calm during tests and diagnosis. He or she will also observe the doctor’s and nurse’s treatment methods.
► Properly maintain a file for all essential documents, x-ray reports, medicines prescribed, medical bills and other necessary documents.
► Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor if you face side effects after consuming some recommended medicines.
► Read carefully all papers given to you by the hospital management. Don’t take anything for granted. Get it read by an aware family member so that besides you, a family member is aware of the terms and conditions laid by the hospital, before surgery.
It is a fact that no single individual can alone eliminate the problem of medical errors. Hospitals and health care clinics must ensure that they hire trained medical professionals. Besides that, doctors and patients must maintain a cordial and open relationship so that nothing remains hidden with respect to the case. Any lack of information from patient’s side leads to poor diagnosis and it can further lead to other problems. By making employees more focused on their work and helping them to manage stress, hospital management can reduce incidents of minor flaws.
Similarly, patients must try to become aware about their disease, ifs and buts of treatment and most importantly, they must ask questions to the medical practitioner. A combined effort from all pillars of medical fraternity and from the patient’s side can help in decreased incidents of medical errors. In the ultimate analysis, the most apt way to prevent medical errors is nothing but care and awareness, from doctors’ and patient’s side, respectively.