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Prevent Medical Errors

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Prevent Errors in the Hospital

Many medical errors happen in the hospital. For example, you may receive the wrong meal or medicine. Here are some things you can ask to avoid errors:

  • Have you washed your hands? It may sound like an odd thing to ask hospital workers, but doing so can help prevent infections.
  • Am I the right person? Make sure hospital workers check your wristband or ask your name before accepting something. You want your own food, medicine, treatment, and bill—not someone else's.
  • How long do I need this? Is it safe? Ask about each step of your care. For example, if you have a urinary catheter, ask about it. The longer you have a catheter, the more likely it is you'll get an infection.
  • What do I do when I go home? Before you leave the hospital, ask your doctor to explain and write down your treatment plan. Ask about your medicines, what you can or can't do, and when you can return to work, school, or other activities. If you're given an instruction sheet, read it and be sure you know what it means.

Before going to a hospital for a surgery or procedure, ask how often the procedure is done. Research shows that you likely will have better results when you go to a hospital that has a lot of experience with a health problem or surgery.1

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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