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Saving Yourself From Medical Mistakes

  • Published: 2010-07-30 : Author: Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, LLP
  • Synopsis: Ways to better ensure your safety and to make the most of your care during a hospital stay.

You can help to maintain your safety and make the most of your care during a hospital stay. As the patient, you can ask questions of your caregivers and provide them with updates on treatment.

It is estimated that 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals from medical errors each year. There are ways to better ensure your safety and to make the most of your care during a hospital stay.

An essential part of ensuring your safety as a patient is to ask questions of your caregivers. You have a right to know which medications you are being given and why. There should be an open line of communication between you and your healthcare providers. Bring a list of all medications you are currently taking to ensure your doctor is fully informed.

Make sure that all personal information such as your name, medical history, and drug allergies are correct and properly documented. Doctors and nurses can make mistakes. Something as minor as a misspelled name could lead to mistakes in medication and dosage that could cause serious harm or death.

One of the more dangerous risks of hospitalization is acquiring an infection. Infections acquired within a hospital account for 48,000 deaths each year. Infections can be prevented by keeping clean and insisting all caregivers wash their hands and wipe all instruments with alcohol before they touch you. Before an invasive surgery, request to be tested for methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSP, which may require further precautions to properly ward off infections.

Research whether your hospital is a teaching hospital. July is when recently graduated medical students begin their residencies at teaching hospitals. Of 250,000 deaths caused by medication errors between 1979 and 2006, an increase of 10 percent was found in the month of July in counties with a high number of teaching hospitals.

While many people undergoing an invasive surgery fear waking up while under anesthesia, it is found to be a rare occurrence. Factors that can affect the success of the anesthesia include a history of substance abuse or a high tolerance of pain medication. However, researching your anesthesiologist is a good precaution. Some anesthesiologists won't be covered in your healthcare plan and can result in an unexpected and pricey bill.

Keep your personal and insurance information private. One and a half million Americans have had their identities stolen so that the perpetrators could use their health insurance to cover their own bills. Inaccurate medical information could be added to your medical file and cause serious complications.

If you have suffered an injury or complication due to hospital error, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately.

Article provided by Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, LLP - Visit us at

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