• How Patients Can Avoid Medical Errors

    Medical errors are now cause for concern as they are impacting patient outcomes, mortality rates and healthcare costs. A study published in the BMJ even claims medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US. These errors include things like misdiagnosis, improper medication dosage, and wrong medications being administered. Wondering how patients can avoid medical errors?

    Medical errors will always exist since healthcare is administered by human beings who make mistakes. With medical errors as high as they are, however, it is clear that something needs to be done to reduce them. In order to do that, we must look at what causes medical errors.

    What Causes Medical Errors

    How Patients Can Avoid Medical ErrorsThe primary reasons medical errors occur is due to poor clinical judgment and poor communication between healthcare providers. This happens because of the fragmented healthcare system we currently use in the U.S. We rely on referrals between physicians and each physician has their own forms and sets of medical records for each patient. Providers rarely talk with each other but instead rely on what the patient tells them. If a patient forgets to tell a provider about a medication they are taking or a symptom they have, an improper medication or diagnosis can be given.

    In addition, the focus on quantity instead of quality in our healthcare system has led doctors to spend such a small amount of time with their patients that it is almost impossible to know enough about them to make a proper determination about their health. Fortunately, our healthcare system is in the process of moving to a system that is based on quality instead of quantity, however it will take a while for that to pan out. In the mean time, patients need to know what to do to avoid medical errors in their care.

    How Patients Can Avoid Medical Errors

    • Play an Active Role – The number one way to avoid medical errors is to consider yourself part of your healthcare team. That means, when a test is ordered, you make sure you understand why. When a treatment is suggested, you make sure you understand what it entails, the risks and the alternatives. Find out why that treatment is being suggested for you over other options, and weigh in with your opinion.
    • Hire a Care Coordinator – Some healthcare companies like CarpeVITA Care Management offer care coordination and management services that help reduce errors by improving communication between healthcare providers and acting as an advocate for the patient.
    • Use Healthcare Networks – Healthcare networks like CarpeVITA Health Networks reduce the possibility of errors because the healthcare providers in the network all work together as a team to manage the care of a patient. They share medical records and get to know their patients more intimately.
    • Play an Active Role in Administering Your Medication – This means that when a nurse gives you medicine to take orally or to be given through an IV, you find out the medicine, the dose and the reason it is being given to you. If you are still unsure about the medicine after the nurse answers your questions, speak with the physician who ordered it before you take it.
    • Use Trusted Physicians – Always research your doctors and make sure their degree is from a reputable institution and that they are board certified in their specialty. Take the amount of their experience into consideration as well.

     

    Sources:

    http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2016-06-02/preventing-medical-errors-what-you-need-to-know?int=98e708

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