Patients: What Can You Do About Medical Errors in a Hospital Setting?

According to the Institute of Medicine, preventable medical errors cause almost 100,000 American deaths every year. If these deaths were included in CDC statistics, medical mistakes would be the sixth leading cause of death. Hundreds of thousands more patients live after suffering from medical negligence, but face serious and long-term injuries.
While these statistics are alarming, forgoing medical care entirely is simply not an option. So what are you to do about medical errors? As a patient, there are several measures you can take to reduce the risk, as well as after-the-fact legal remedies you can pursue if you have been a victim of hospital negligence.

Speak Up, Participate In Your Own Healthcare

Patient safety is ultimately in the hands of doctors and other health care professionals. Nonetheless, active participation in your own medical treatment can help alert your health care providers to problems before they become disasters.

Many medical mistakes come about simply because there is a breakdown in communication. Forms are filled out improperly, handwriting is illegible or someone in your chain of care forgets to pass on a critical piece of information.

As a patient, if you speak up, ask questions and participate in active discussions about your condition, you might call attention to such communication problems, and doctors could catch any mistakes before it's too late. Study up on your health issues, browse the internet and come to the hospital as an informed and inquisitive patient.

Preparing for successful treatment can also mean monitoring your own medical history. If you are able to provide doctors with a list of your medications and any preexisting conditions upon your entrance to the hospital, it is less likely that something will be missed.

Finally, you may wish to come to the hospital with a person you trust — a spouse, family member or friend, for instance — so someone is there to speak up for you even if you are unable to do so.

Address Medical Mistakes With Legal Solutions

Being an active participant in your own care is one of the best things you can do to prevent medical errors. But sometimes, all the effort in the world does not keep you from suffering at the hands of a careless physician.

If you have been injured due to a doctor's mistake, or if a family member has been killed, you have a right to compensation; the at-fault parties can be held liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact a medical malpractice lawyer today to learn more about how you may collect monetary damages from those responsible for your suffering.