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How patients can guard against medical errors

Even though medical errors are not an official causes of death for death certificates, recent studies have shown that medical errors are the third leading causes of death in the United States. Medical errors are defined as an unintentional act or an action that does not result in the desired outcome. Error of execution, error of planning, and deviation from the proper care process are all considered medical errors.

Due to the prevalence of medical errors in our health care systems, all patients should take steps to help prevent medical errors. Here are a few tips that you can use to guard against medical errors.

Ask questions

One way that you can guard against medical errors is by asking the right questions. For example, if your physician is prescribing you a new medication, you should ask questions and raise any concerns you may have to ensure the medication is right for you and your needs. You should ask what the medication will do and how long you should take it. Inquire about potential side effects of taking the medication. Confirm that the medication won't interact with dietary supplements or any other over-the-counter and prescription medications you may be taking.

Keep your physician on the same page

To reduce the chance of medical errors, you should keep your physician informed and on the same page. Your physician should know about every single medication and dietary supplement you are taking. You should bring all of your supplements and medications to your physician once every year. Your physician should also know about any allergies that you have to medications. That way, your physician won't prescribe you a medication that will harm you. Never assume that a physician knows everything about you that they need to know to give you proper care.

Have a loved one with you

Another way that you can guard against medical errors is by asking a loved one to be there for you during doctors' appointments and surgical consultations. Your family member or friend will be able to advocate for you. If you anticipate that you will have trouble speaking up for yourself or getting things done, bringing a loved one can be a helpful thing to do. The loved one will also be there to take notes, ask questions and listen carefully to the responses of the physician. That way, if you forget an important detail, your loved one may be able to help you remember. Even if you don't believe that you will need help from a loved one, you may end up needing help later on. Therefore, it is doesn't hurt to have someone you trust with you from the very beginning.

While not all medical errors are serious, some are deadly. Therefore, as a patient, it is essential that you play an active role when it comes to your health care to help guard against medical errors for the duration of your medical treatment.

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