What You Can Do to Prevent Medical Errors
thing you can do to prevent medical errors is to be involved in your health
care. Learn and know about your health problem, medicine, and treatment as best
you can and take part in making all decisions about your care. Talk to everyone
who is involved in your health care. This includes your doctors, other health
professionals, family, and friends.
Before you agree to a
medicine, treatment plan, surgery, or lifestyle change, such as changing what
you eat, be sure you understand it. Always ask if you are not clear on what, how, or why.
The following steps can help you prevent
- Speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone who is involved with
your care. This is easier if you have a doctor you feel comfortable with.
- Make sure that someone, such as your personal doctor, is in charge of your care. This is especially important if you
have many health problems or are in a hospital.
- Make sure that all health professionals involved in your care have health information about you. Don't assume that everyone knows
everything they need to know.
- Ask a family member or friend to be there for you. Take someone along with you to a doctor's
visit or to the hospital. Make sure this person will speak up for you and get
things done if you're not able to help yourself. Even if you don't need help
now, you might need it later. Make sure this person knows your wishes for your
- Know that "more" is not always "better." Find out why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help
you. You might be better off without it.
- If you have a test, don't assume that no news is good news. Ask when and how
you will get the results of tests or procedures. If you don't get them when you
expect to, don't assume that the results are fine. Call your doctor and ask for
the results and what they mean for your health and treatment.
- Learn about your condition and treatment. Ask your doctors if
your treatment is based on the latest evidence. You can find treatment
recommendations based on the latest evidence at www.guideline.gov. Other good
places to learn about your condition and treatment include your local library,
respected Web sites, and support groups.
There are places you can check to see how your health care
is rated. Here are a few of them:
- Hospital Compare, U.S. Department of Health
& Human Services: www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov
- The Joint
- Consumer Health Ratings: