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How patients may protect themselves from medical mistakes

Thousands of Americans die each year due to mistakes made at hospitals, and you do not want to be among that group. You have learned about mix-ups with medications and doses, diagnostic errors, undiagnosed surgical complications and poorly trained staff.

Naturally, self-preservation is on your mind when faced with a medical situation. As a result, you want to be prepared. Trusting your health care providers is one thing, but you also must trust yourself in doing your utmost to fend off any medical mistakes that may surface. How do you as a patient do that?

Learn about your condition

According to a Johns Hopkins University study, more than 250,000 people die annually due to medical errors. Researchers studied data from the nine-year period of 2000 to 2008 in coming up with their findings

This statistic is disheartening for any medical patient. However, there are actions that you as a patient can do that may minimize or even prevent a medical error from disrupting your life. They include:

  • Study to learn more about your medical condition: You want to understand what has happened to you and how doctors can help. What are the treatment options? Are non-surgical options possible? What led to your ailment? What are the symptoms? What types of drugs are needed along with the dosages? An educated patient is a forward-thinking patient.
  • Have a reliable family member at your side: Have that person attend medical appointments with you, and you may gain reassurance from his or her presence. Remember, sometimes, a person with a pending major surgery may not have the clearest of thoughts. The two of you can listen and take notes.
  • Get a second medical opinion: Your confidence must be earned by the doctor. If not, it is time for a second opinion. A Mayo Clinic study discovered that 88% of patients who sought a second opinion received a new or refined diagnosis. Also, 21% of the patients who received a second opinion got a “distinctly different” diagnosis from another medical professional.

These steps just could help you weather this turbulent time in your life. You want the best outcome possible.

Be your own advocate

The worries related to a medical condition will test any patient. But this is the time to dig down deep and be your own medical advocate.