Keep an Eye on Your Care – Tips for Avoiding Medical Mistakes
Healthcare providers are only human—mistakes can happen. As an informed patient, you can keep an eye out to make sure you get the right treatment every time—in the office, at the lab, and at the hospital. Try these 10 tips provided by the U.S. Agency for Health Research and Quality.
- Be an active member of your healthcare team. Take part in every decision about your health. Research shows that patients who are more involved get better care.
- Make sure your doctor knows all the medicines and supplements you take.
- Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies or adverse reactions you have had to medicines.
- When your doctor writes you a prescription, read it. If you can't read it, your pharmacist might not be able to either.
- Ask for information about medicines and treatments in terms you understand–both when your medicines are prescribed and when you receive them.
- What is this medicine for?
- How am I supposed to take it?
- What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
- Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
- What food or drink should I avoid while taking this?
- When you pick up a medicine or get a treatment at a medical center, ask: Is this the medicine/treatment that my doctor prescribed?
- Make sure that all the healthcare providers involved in your care have important information about you. Don't assume that everyone knows what they need to know.
- Ask a family member or friend to be there with you and be an advocate.
- Know that more is not always better. Ask why a test or treatment is needed and how it can help. You might be better off without it.
- If you have a test, don't assume that no news is good news. Find out the results.