Eliminating Medical Errors

No patient goes into a hospital thinking that they may be the victim of a preventable problem, like an incorrect procedure or an serious fall, but unfortunately mistakes do happen in health care.

A recent article, citing research out of The New England Journal of Medicine, claims that efforts to make hospitals safer are failing with complications from procedures and hospital-acquired infections topping the list of common incidents. Researchers focused on North Carolina hospitals because of their involved patient safety programs and were surprised to find “a high rate of problems” despite these measures.

So what can you, the patient, do to protect yourself from potential errors?

Mary Immaculate Hospital’s Health Academy came up with a wonderful acronym to help patients, who are worried about the possibility of a medical error, take control of their medical care:

  • Speak up if you have questions. Your health is too important to worry about being embarrassed.
  • Pay attention to your care. Expect your health care providers to introduce themselves.
  • Educate yourself about your diagnosis. Gather information about your condition from a doctor, the library, or the internet.
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be your advocate. Your advocate can help ask questions when you are under stress.
  • Know what medications you take and why. If you do not recognize a medication, verify that it is for you.
  • Use a facility that has undergone a rigorous on-site evaluation, such as Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). All Bon Secours Hampton Roads Hospitals, DePaul Medical Center, Mary Immaculate Hospital and Maryview Medical Center, are JCAHO certified.
  • Participate in all decisions involving your treatment. Work with your health care providers as a team.

Remember to ask questions! You have a right to question anyone involved with your case. If you have a test, don’t assume that “no news is good news”- SPEAK UP and assert your right to know.

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