The Health Section

Four ways to protect yourself from medical errors

Medical errors are a big deal, particularly when they affect your own health. You can help avoid medical errors by following a few simple steps. Next time you fill a prescription or visit the doctor, try these tips from the National Patient Safety Foundation :

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.

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. For example, medical teams will often ask you to confirm what procedure you are having. Or if someone tells you they need to do a test, and you weren’t aware, ask them to make sure your doctor ordered it. This helps keep everyone, including you, on the same page and can avoid medical errors.

Learn about your conditions and treatments

Ask your doctors for more information about your condition. Don’t be shy — you have a right to know.  You might try the three question approach from the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Ask Me 3TM :

  1. What’s my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?

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. It’s a good idea to check your facility’s Hospital Safety Score before you receive care.