20 Tips to Protect Yourself From Medical Errors – Part I

Medical errors are one of the Nation’s leading causes of death and injury. A recent report by the Institute of Medicine estimates that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. This means that more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.

1. You need to take part in every decision about your health care.

2. You need to make sure your doctors have all medications (prescription and over-the-counter, including herbal supplements) you are taking.

3. You need to make sure your doctors know about any allergies and adverse reactions to medications.

4. You need to make sure any prescription can be read by the pharmacist.

5. You need to ask questions about any medicine so you understand why they have been prescribed (side effects, safe with other medicines, how to take it and for how long).

6. You need to confirm with the pharmacist your prescription is the medicine that your doctor prescribed.

7. You need to ask if you cannot understand the instructions on the prescription label.

8. You need to ask for written information about the side effects your medicine could cause.

9. You need to choose a hospital that has a great deal of experience with the procedure or surgery you need.

10. You need to ask all healthcare workers who have direct contact with you if they have washed their hands.

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