5 ways to make your health care safer

May 20 2014
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Twice as many people die of medical mistakes and errors every year than from breast cancer, HIV and motor accidents combined, according to the CDC and the Journal of Patient Safety. Medical mistakes happen at the hospital, the doctor’s office and at home.

Here are five ways you can prevent medical errors:

  1. Avoid prescription drug errors
    Make sure your doctors know about allergies and reactions you have had in the past. Share a list of every medicine you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  1. Make sure your doctor coordinates your care
    If you are having surgery, make sure your entire health care team – doctors, nurses and others – agree on what needs to be done.
  1. Learn about your condition and treatments
    Ask your doctors for more information. Use reputable sources like iTriage. Then ask your doctor if the suggested treatment is up-to-date with clinical evidence and guidelines.
  1. Check your hospital’s quality and safety ratings
    The Leapfrog Group conducts surveys that look at patient results, care resources and organizational structures to assess safety. Check your facility’s Leapfrog score and Hospital Safety Score before you receive care.
  1. Ask the right questions
    You have a right to know, so don’t hesitate to ask. Have you washed your hands? What treatment plan should I follow? Is this the right medicine? Can you explain my condition in simpler terms?

Aetna is helping, too

We have our own ways to help make your health care safer:

Creating prevention and treatment programs

Our pharmacists, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and specialists work together to help people avoid unnecessary access to habit-forming medications. In our Suboxone Case Review program, we improved opioid abstinence rates by 30 percent, reduced inpatient hospital admissions by 35 percent and decreased total paid medical costs by 40 percent.

Watching trends

We look at trends to identify areas of improvement. In one recent program, our clinical teams helped to reduce opioid prescriptions by 14 percent among 4.3 million members.

Reviewing claims data

We keep an eye on our members’ claims to help them avoid mistakes and errors. We step in thousands of times a year to alert patients, doctors and health care facilities of potential safety issues.

Learn more about patient safety.