It’s no secret that staffing shortages are affecting medical facilities all around the nation – and it’s impossible not to recognize the fact that the shortages can and do affect patient care. Mistakes happen even when doctors, nurses and pharmacists aren’t overworked and harried, so you know that the risk of a medical error is higher than normal.
If you have to be a patient in a hospital setting any time soon, is there anything you can do to protect yourself from medical errors? Here are some suggestions:
Take a list of important information with you
It’s always wise to keep an updated list of your medical information on you at all times. That way, you’re prepared whether you’re in the hospital due to an emergency or something pre-planned. Your list should include:
- The name and contact information of your primary care physician
- The name and contact info for any specialists you may have
- A list of all your major health conditions
- A list of all your medications, including dosages
- A list of any allergies you may have to medications, latex or anything else
Make sure that your list makes it into your file during intake so that there’s no confusion about your medical needs.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions
It can be intimidating to ask doctors and nurses questions, especially when you don’t feel that well – but you have every right to be a fully participating member of your own medical team. That means:
- Asking why specific lab tests or treatments have been ordered
- Insisting that your care team follow safety procedures (like washing their hands)
- Confirming your medication and dosages before you take them
- Asking for a second opinion when you think you need one
If you have trouble advocating for yourself, it’s also perfectly okay to take a friend or relative along with you on your hospital trip who can advocate for you.
Medical malpractice can happen to anybody, no matter how hard you try to prevent it. If you or your loved one suffered an injury due to a medical error, it would be wise to look deeper into your legal options.