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How to reduce the chances of medical error

When we go to the doctor’s office or a hospital, we expect correct diagnoses and effective treatments for a condition if needed. While doctors are usually able to help, they are not perfect. They may make mistakes that could lead to even more medical problems for you. Doctors have a responsibility to care for you properly but you can also take steps to help prevent errors.

Give them as much info as possible.

In order to best treat you, a doctor should know all about your medical history. Make sure they are informed about any conditions that run in the family and any diagnoses or surgeries you have had in the past.

Always tell your doctor if you are currently on any medication. They should also be aware of any allergies you have, in case you are allergic to something they might use in your time there. In short, be open in your communication.

Ask a lot of questions.

As a rule of thumb, you should never begin a treatment or prescription that you do not understand. For example, if you are put on medication, ask how often to take it, the dosage amount and anything else you should know about how to use it.

Ask for a list of side effects. If you do not know what your medication might do, you will not know if something is wrong in the event that you experience symptoms after taking it.

Look into alternatives.

While doctors are highly trained and educated, there will still be varying opinions about what is best in a given situation. Even after a recommended course of action, ask about other treatments and the pros and cons of each choice.

This is especially important if your doctor recommends surgery. Surgery always comes with some level of risk and it is also a more common area of medical practice for errors to occur. Is surgery your only choice for treatment? Is it the best choice? What risks do you face? If you are not comfortable with your doctor’s recommendation or just want more peace of mind about it, you can seek a second opinion from a different doctor.

If you do choose to undergo a surgery, ask for multiple confirmations about the procedure you are getting. Sometimes surgeons operate on the wrong site or perform the wrong procedure. You have every right to give them reminders and ensure you are getting the proper care.

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