Patient proactivity recommended to reduce medical error risk

Medical malpractice is a scary thing to Pennsylvania patients who desire to trust in their healthcare providers’ abilities and goodwill. Good intentions aside, problems do happen and being aware and proactive can be two of the best ways that people can protect themselves against a serious injury. Whether surgical errors, medication errors, missed diagnoses or more, the ramifications of medical mistakes can be severe and lifelong.

An article published in the media recently reviews some of the ways that patients can participate actively in their healthcare in an effort to reduce the risk of problems. The author offers specific actions to be taken. One recommendation is to avoid closed lines of questioning that would require only “yes” or “no” responses. Making sure to provide full details about symptoms, including timing of onset or abatement, can help to avoid receiving incorrect treatment suggested.

Additionally, when treatments or testing is suggested by a provider, patients are encouraged to ask questions. Understanding the reason for the recommendations, potential scenarios based upon different results and other options gives people a better window into the thought process of a doctor, physician’s assistant or other medical team member. While checklists can be helpful to prevent omission of important steps for providers, a sole reliance on them can leave patients in receipt of canned results that are not really appropriate for their situations. When this happens, the chance for a worsened condition grows.

Before a surgery, test or other procedure, talking candidly and thoroughly with doctors may reduce the chance of serious problems. If problems do happen, talking with a lawyer may be a good option. Understanding the laws can provide the ability to get help if needed.

Source: Time, “5 Ways to Make Sure Your Doctor is Listening to You,” Leana Wen, April 21, 2014