More people die each year from medical malpractice than from workplace injuries.
“Preventable medical errors persist as the No. 3 killer in the U.S. – third only to heart disease and cancer – claiming the lives of some 400,000 people each year. At a Senate hearing Thursday, patient safety officials put their best ideas forward on how to solve the crisis, with IT often at the center of discussions.” “Deaths by Medical Mistakes Hit Records, July 18, 2014.
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It's not just the 1,000 deaths per day that should be huge cause for alarm, noted Joanne Disch, RN, clinical professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, who also spoke before Congress. There's also the 10,000 serious complications cases resulting from medical errors that occur each day.
So what can you do to help prevent medical errors?
1. Choose a good doctor and really get to know him/her. Even if you have to choose a doctor from your insurance company’s list, ask your friends and co-employees who they see before choosing a doctor.
2. Use the Internet to research doctors before making an appointment. Check to see if the physician has been disciplined or formally accused of wrongdoing by a medical board; has had his/her practice temporarily restricted of suspended pursuant to a court order; or has been disciplined by a medical board of another state or federal governmental agency. For Wyoming doctors check the following website for disciplinary actions: http://wyomedboard.wyo.gov/consumers/alphabetical-disciplinary-action-list
3. Understand the medications you are taking and why. Many people are over medicated. When picking up a new prescription, ask the pharmacist if it should not be taken with the medications you are currently taking. Double check to see if you have been given the correct drug. Look up all your medications on the Internet to determine what they are supposed to treat and what the side effects are.
4. Make a list of the medications and the dosages you are taking. Take this list with you to all of your doctor appointments.
5. Be curious when talking to your doctor. Ask questions and ask more questions. Have your doctor write down the diagnosis if there is one and when you get home research this medical condition on the internet.
6. Make a list of your questions. Take your list of questions with you when you go to see your doctor.
7. Consider getting a second opinion.
8. Don’t take chances with surgery
. Make sure everyone on your medical team,
surgeons, nurses and the anesthesiologist knows what your surgery is for and
where (which knee, which side of your face, neck, etc.) Ask them to mark the
correct area before they wheel you into the operating room.
9. Medications in the hospital. When hospitalized, never allow a nurse to give you medication either orally or in your IV until you find out what medication you were receiving.
10. Think hard before refusing a caesarian section your doctor says you need. Waiting because you want to deliver naturally may result in serious injuries to your child.
11. Take someone with you. A friend will be able to recall what your doctor had to say. If you are hospitalized, it is important to have someone there with you to make sure the hospital staff and your doctor are taking care of you.
12. Get a copy of your medical records. Keep a file containing all of your medical records.
13. Get a copy of your health insurance plan and read it carefully so you know what is covered and what is not.
14. Like your doctor. Think twice before you continue seeing a doctor you do not like or a doctor who does not like you and will not answer your questions.
15. Don’t hide your medical past. Your medical team needs to have important information including your family medical history.