Medical mistakes are not uncommon. Hospitals in general are not infallible. Doctors, nurses and other medical staff can make errors in judgment during the performance of their duties.
But there are ways to avoid medical mistakes with hospitals, doctors and other medical care personnel.
- Practice full disclosure. When speaking to a medical professional, especially when consulting your physician, don’t hold anything back when you are asked about how you are feeling, what your symptoms are, what medicines you have been taking, your diet and exercise regimen, and anything else that the doctor might inquire about. All these information are used by the medical professional to make an informed diagnosis about your condition.
- Submit a copy of your test results and other medical records to your doctor. Your doctor will use these to make his diagnosis and build your medical history file. You also need to keep a copy of the records for yourself. If possible, make electronic copies by scanning the document and converting them to .PDF files. Once converted, send a copy of your medical records to your own email address. You can then provide a copy of your medical records to the doctor or hospital in case you get sick or are in an accident while out of state or abroad.
- Request a family member to be involved in case you need surgery. Choose a family member who knows the different medications you are taking, your allergies, medical history, eating habits, level of physical activity and other information that may be useful to the medical professionals handling your case. A knowledgeable family member can provide valuable information that the hospital or medical professionals can use to make the right medical decisions.
- Carry around personal medical information at all times. You will never know when an accident may happen to you. If you are unconscious, the EMS, Emergency Room personnel or a medical practitioner treating you will not be able to ask you about your medical history. Write down important information like medications you are taking, allergies and adverse reactions to certain drugs, medical insurance provider, and person to contact in case of medical issues. Having these with you will help the medical personnel avoid making mistakes in providing you the best care they possibly can.
- Ask questions. When you are given a medical diagnosis and treatment plan, ask as many questions as needed. Leave the doctor’s office with a full understanding of your condition. If necessary, ask for a second opinion. When you need to undergo a procedure or takes a test, clarify what the procedures and tests are for. Your body is your responsibility so you should know exactly what would happen to it.
- See a reputable doctor and hospital. Look for a physician you trust and are comfortable talking to. Go to a medical facility that you know has a good track record in terms of patient care.
Not all medical mistakes are due to the negligence of doctors or hospitals. As the patient, you play a very important role in preventing mistakes from happening. One important cause of medical mistakes is when patients do not provide all the necessary information to their doctors. Without the proper information, medical practitioners cannot make an intelligent and well-informed diagnosis of your medical problem. There are other ways to avoid medical mistakes. If you value your health and your life, you will do whatever it takes to prevent these mistakes from happening at all.