Medical errors can stem from seemingly small problems. Here are five things you can do, as a health care consumer, to make sure your care is given in the safest and most effective way:
- Be an informed patient.
- Ask as many questions as you can, especially about illnesses or conditions that can or do affect you
- Do some independent research and talk about it with your doctor
- Choose a facility that best suits your treatment needs
- Seek more than one opinion
- Stay on top of your medical history
- Keep records of other doctors you’ve seen
- Keep records of any treatments or medications you’ve received
- Remember any medications you currently take
- Work with your doctor
- Share your medical history and any helpful, pertinent information you can give
- Ask questions and voice your concerns
- Make sure you are clear about all aspects of your treatment
- Involve a family member or friend
- In case you are not able to record the aspects of your treatment, involve a family member or friend to keep track on your behalf
- Follow the treatment plan you are given
- Again, make sure you understand all aspects of your treatment
- If possible, obtain a written set of instructions
- Report anything (e.g., complication, different sensation) that is not expected or previously discussed, if it arises
Making yourself a smarter consumer is the first step to avoiding mismanagement by a healthcare professional.
For more information about how to be a smarter healthcare consumer, visit the National Patient Safety Foundation.