As a patient, you are required to place your trust in doctors to receive effective medical care. However, no medical professional is perfect. Unfortunately, thousands of medical errors ranging from misdiagnosis to wrong site surgery occur each year in the United States. If you are the victim of a medical error, you could develop a new complication, or your current condition could become more serious.
Some medical errors are impossible for patients to prevent, but others can be avoided if the patient is careful and vigilant. In particular, patients can play a role in preventing medication errors, which occur when hospital or pharmaceutical staff prescribe medication incorrectly. According to the website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP, the most common medication errors arise when medical professionals mistake drugs with similar names, give drugs to the wrong patient, or give an incorrect dose of medication. Occasionally, medical professionals also fail to note an allergen that may be present in a drug and administer it to a patient who could have a reaction.
Fortunately, patients have some ability to prevent medication error. Being organized is the most effective method of prevention. Keep a detailed list of every medication you are currently taking that you can show to a medical professional–this can prevent the unfortunate situation in which two prescribed drugs react badly to one another and cause adverse symptoms. Repeatedly inform your doctor and other care providers about any allergies you have to avoid being prescribed a medicine you are allergic to. Consider asking your pharmacist about the directions on your medications, and make sure you know exactly how to administer the medication (correct dosage, time of day, frequency, etc.).
If you have any questions whatsoever about a medication or medical procedure, ask your doctor. If a procedure sounds dangerous or risky, wait to hear a second or third opinion from other medical professionals before undergoing it. Medical malpractice is a tragic event, and as a patient, you should take every precaution you can to avoid being victimized by it.