Can you imagine going into the hospital for heart or knee surgery, only to run into serious complications – or even die – because an everyday error that could have been avoided?

According to the Institute of Medicine’s landmark 1999 report, 98,000 hospitalized Americans are killed each year and 1 million more are injured due to preventable medical errors. The report found that even using a lower estimate, more people die in U.S. hospitals each year from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer or AIDS.

There are several things the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality recommends that hospitals should do to prevent errors. These are things that you as a patient and family member of a patient can demand.

  • The single most important way you can help prevent errors is to be an active member of your health care team. That means taking part in every decision about your health care. Research shows that patients who are more involved with their care tend to get better results. Have a family member come with you to ask additional questions. Bring a list of questions you would like the doctor to answer.
  • Make sure your provider wears gloves before handling your tube, uses a specific skin antiseptic and removes the tube as soon as possible to prevent infections that kill about 14,000 patients a year. Additionally, you should ask and make sure everyone cleans his or her hands before coming in contact with you or your loved one.
  • Elevate the head of the bed and follow specific treatment guidelines to prevent patients on ventilators from getting pneumonia, which kills about 26,000 patients a year.
  • Keep track of your history and be sure that all health professionals involved in your care have important health information about you. Write down your medical history including any medical conditions you have, illnesses, immunizations, allergies, hospitalizations, all medications and dietary supplements you are taking, and any reactions or sensitivities you have experienced. Bring this list with you to your doctor appointments and hospital.
  • If you need surgery, ask who will oversee any resident who will be performing an operation. Check the physician or surgeon’s background information through the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision. There are a number of other steps you can take to check the doctor’s history such as looking them up on Google, and making sure he or she is a surgeon who specializes in the procedure you are going to have performed.
  • Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and to be your advocate (someone who can help get things done and speak up for you if you can’t). Even if you think you don’t need help now, you might need it later.

-Courtesy of Oklahoma Center for Consumer and Patient Safety

For more information and additional resources, visit the Oklahoma Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision at http://www.okmedicalboard.org.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of Medical Malpractice, contact Frasier Law today at 918-779-3658.