According to the BMJ, medical error is the third most common cause of death in the United States. The BMJ estimates that as many as 251,000 died in 2013 from medical errors in the United States. Unfortunately, it's difficult to know for sure whether medical error is truly the third leading cause of death because medical error isn't recorded on most death certificates.
Many people find going to a hospital absolutely terrifying. Even people going to the hospital for a simple procedure feel terrified due to all the new stories and anecdotes they hear about negligence at hospitals that lead to serious and sometimes fatal mistakes. Here are a few tips that should help you avoid medical mistakes at your next hospital visit as a patient.
1. Can your doctor answer all the questions you have?
When you're at the hospital, don't be afraid to ask questions or express your concerns. If your physician is knowledgeable and adequately trained, they should be able to address your questions and concerns with little to no issues. The responses to your questions and concerns should be thorough and detailed.
2. Know which medications are being administered to you.
According to the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, about 1.5 million people are seriously harmed at the hospital due to an error related to medication. In quite a few of these cases, the medical error could have been prevented if the staff had paid more attention. Since staff won't always pay as much attention as they should, be sure to repeatedly check with the staff about which medications are being administered to you.
3. Speak to your surgeon and anesthesiologist before surgery.
If you're undergoing a surgical procedure, you should get to know the surgeon and anesthesiologist who will be responsible for your well-being. Have them explain to you the procedure they will be performing and don't hesitate to ask them about their history of failed procedures.
4. Consider getting a second opinion. You may want to get a second opinion about the treatment you should undergo or even the diagnosis of your condition. This is especially true if your current diagnosis or treatment goes against what reputable sources say.
5. Review your medications with the pharmacist. Double check with your pharmacist to ensure you have a prescription for the right medication and the right dosage.
While medical error is a common cause of death in the United States, these are a few steps you can take to prevent medical mistakes during your next hospital visit. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a medical error, it is important to speak with an experience attorney right away. An attorney can determine whether the error rises to the level of medical malpractice and work to obtain the maximum compensation you are due by law.