Experience Brings Results

What can I do to prevent medical mistakes?

The health care industry has undergone a lot of changes over the past few decades. Many young Oregonians today probably don't appreciate that there was a time when those holding the title of M.D. were typically held in awe. If they had spent the time and energy to get that degree, they automatically garnered respect.

Regardless of whether they happened to be good at their jobs or not, their decisions usually were not questioned. Getting second opinions? Forget about it.

In more recent times, demands of the system have speeded up interactions between doctors and patients and we have also come to understand that doctors mistakes just like everyone else. The problem is that if doctor negligence results in injury or death -- something that should have never happened -- then the victim may be justified in seeking to hold the doctor accountable.

The model of doctor-patient care has changed to such a degree that there is a great deal more emphasis today on what patients should be doing to prevent errors from happening. And number one on that list is for them to take more responsibility to improve communication. As the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality notes, this is a factor at a number of different touch points.

If you are one of the many people on a regular course of drug treatments, you can do a lot to prevent dangerous drug interactions by sharing an up-to-date list of products and dosages with your doctor. If you know you have allergies or react badly to certain medications, it's worth sharing with your doctor. When you get your prescription at the pharmacy, be sure that it's what the doctor ordered. Ask the pharmacist.

Hospital stays happen when you've had significant health issues. If you need surgery, it's a good idea to find a hospital that has a good record for success with your procedure. And there's nothing wrong with repeatedly making sure that the surgeon and everyone on the operating team knows what is to be done.

There is no substitute for solid communication and the practice of it can also reinforce a claim if errors do occur.

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