How can patients help prevent medical malpractice? Part 1

Wednesday March 4, 2015

Any Connecticut resident who has been in the care of a physician, hospital or other medical facility might find the following fact especially sobering. One of every seven Medicare patients in hospitals will be a victim of a medical error.. Adverse medical events that lead to malpractice cases can occur anywhere, including a hospital, a patient’s home or a doctor’s clinic and can involve medicines, surgery, diagnoses or lab reports.

What is the best way to avoid becoming a victim of medical malpractice? Become fully involved with your own health care. Several studies have pointed out that a lack of communication between patients and doctors increases the likelihood that an adverse medical event will occur.

What are some of the most common problems that lead to malpractice events and lawsuits? Patients taking the wrong medicine or the wrong dosage or taking a medicine or supplement without the doctor’s advice or knowledge often lead to trouble. Always inform your doctor of all medicines, supplements, vitamins and herbs you regularly use. Always ask about the possibility of medical allergies and adverse reactions with your specific medications.

Be sure to take your medications in the prescribed dosages. Be sure you can read and pronounce the name of your medications. After buying medicine from a pharmacist, check with your doctor. Take liquid medications with the best available measuring device to ensure accuracy.

What else should patients know about medications? Always ask your doctor what the medicines you are taking are for and how long you will need to take them. Ask if there are any side effects and what you should do if you experience one. Make sure your doctor tells you it is safe to continue taking your supplements or herbs along with prescribed medications and what food, drink or activities you should avoid while taking them.

Source: AHRQ.gov, “20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors,” Accessed Feb. 26, 2015

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