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Tips for Preventing Medical Mistakes
Outside the Hospital
- Keep a record of your medical history, including lab, medications, x-rays, and procedure reports.
- Call about test results if you do not receive them in the time expected.
- Tell every doctor about your allergies, as well as any medications, supplements, and herbal remedies you take.
- Document adverse reactions to medications.
- Make a list of your doctors, your pharmacies, and other providers. Give it to new members of your healthcare team.
- Research the credentials of any potential provider.
- Take a list of questions to your doctor’s visit. Write down the answers or ask someone to go to the appointment with you.
- If your English skills are limited, have a translator go with you to your doctor's appointments.
- Make sure you can read prescriptions.
- Ask what drugs are for, the amount you should be taking, how to take them, and potential side effects.
- If you need a procedure, ask who will administer the anesthesia and insist on meeting the person to review your medical needs. Ask how you will be monitored.
- Check the hospital’s reputation, its accreditation, and Magnet status. Magnet status is an award given to hospitals that have outstanding nurses.
In the Hospital
- Remind caregivers to wash their hands. It prevents the spread of infection. Or post a sign.
- Remind caregivers to wear gloves or masks.
- If you are having surgery, make sure they mark the correct site.
- Ask the name of the registered nurse responsible for your care during each shift. If you have a question, direct it to them.
- Avoid distracting caregivers while they provide care. Wait until the task is finished.
- Check medications before swallowing. If they do not look right, ask.
- Remind staff about allergies, especially for things routinely used, such as latex or iodine.
- Understand why tests are being done.
- Before leaving, understand what follow-up care you will need and how you will get it.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2016
- Update Date: 02/25/2016