How to protect yourself from medical errors

How to protect yourself from medical errors

A recent Johns Hopkins study revealed that preventable medical errors are responsible for roughly 250,000 deaths each year. Other studies have shown that this figure may be well above 400,000. One reason for the widely different numbers – although both are alarming is that those who report deaths – physicians, coroners and medical examiners – rarely place “human error” on the death certificate as the cause of death. However, death certificates form the basis for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) determination of death statistics nationwide. The authors of the study have appealed to the CDC to change its data collection methods, but thus far no changes have been made. Regardless, from a patient’s perspective, while statistics important, improving safety takes top priority. Errors can occur in a variety of ways, but often are the result of poorly skilled staff, judgement errors, prescription/medication errors, and surgical errors. Roughly 10% of all hospitalizations result in deaths from medical errors.

Although it may not be possible to protect yourself from any medical harm, a few tips to help keep you safe include:

Ask your doctor or medical provider questions. Don’t be afraid to inquire into more details about the treatment you are receiving and any potential risks or concerns you may have.

Get a second opinion. Don’t worry about offending your doctor by seeking advice from another medical professional. As professionals, medical providers should welcome second opinions that may provide alternatives or support their position.

Bring a friend or family member along to your appointment who can provide a second set of ears, provide input and ask questions you may not have thought of.

For more information or if you or a loved one has suffered harm as a result of a preventable medical error, please contact the experienced San Diego medical malpractice lawyers at Bostwick Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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