Each year, medical errors injure millions of people, according to the National Academy of Sciences. These mistakes cost billions of dollars in health costs annually, and can cause life-altering consequences. We hope that we are getting the best possible care there is when we go to the hospital or see a doctor, but unfortunately that is not always the case. In fact, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement estimates that there are 15 million instances of harm caused by medical mistakes every year in the United States. Below are five of the most common medical mistakes, and tips on how to avoid them.
This includes the possibility of prescribing the wrong medication or specifying the wrong dosage. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, medication errors injure 1.5 million people every year. Mistakes may be due to a doctor’s messy handwriting or confusion over similar drug names. To avoid the chance of these mistakes happening, the Institute of Medicine recommends maintaining a complete list of all the medications and vitamins that you take and having the list regularly reviewed by your medical practitioner. Also, it never hurts to ask your doctors to explain the drugs you are on and what the side effects are
Poor Communication between Doctors and Patients
Doctor-patient communication is extremely important for avoiding medical mistakes. Patients need to give full disclosure to their doctors about their health and physicians need to make sure to ask the right questions. Don’t assume that just because you’ve been going to the same doctor for years that he or she remembers everything about you. The Institute for Medicine reports that patients only receive half of the tests and procedures that are recommended for their conditions. Make sure to fill up on tests with your physician – and ask for extra copies of lab reports, test results and prescriptions. Keeping a good record of your medical documents may prevent a future injury.
Infections are a common medical mistake that can lead to life-threatening consequences, especially in a hospital setting. Since so many patients are together in one place, hospital workers can easily transmit bacteria from one person to another if they are not careful. When you’re at a hospital, make sure the doctor washes his hands. You may feel uncomfortable asking, but it may save you from a deadly infection.
Hospital staff can make a number of mistakes that lead to patient injuries. The list can include bedsores, falls and hospital infections. A lot of these mistakes stem from the healthcare provider’s inability to recognize the need for medical attention. Hospitals are a busy place and signs of deteriorating health may go unnoticed. It’s a good idea for a patient to have an advocate carefully looking out for their needs.
Surgical errors can include transfusing the wrong blood type or giving an inaccurate amount of anesthesia. Administrative mistakes can also happen, and the results can be devastating. An administrative error, for example, can lead to a doctor operating on the wrong patient – or on the wrong body part. According to the Archives of Surgery, 2,700 wrong-site surgeries are performed in America each year. Patients should have an in-depth discussion with their doctor beforehand – and maybe, before the operation begins, have them mark the site with a permanent marker while you watch.