Medical mistakes are among the leading causes of death. The good news! They are avoidable. It might be a doctor’s mistake or the patient not taking an active role in their treatment. Being aware of the treatment and not being a passive bystander in your own health issues is the first step towards avoiding medical mistakes.
I will be listing the most common causes of medical errors and how can you play a role in avoiding them.
The 4 mistakes you should avoid:
#1 Improper Medication:
The wrong medicine or the wrong amount can cause serious problems. Some medicines are very strong and it might be tricky to decide the dosage (which is generally based on the weight of the person and any preexisting conditions) which is safe as well as effective. The limitations in giving proper medication might be: lack of training, human error, misunderstanding or miscommunication between the patient and doctor.
How to avoid taking an improper medication:
Pay attention to when and how the medicine needs to be taken. In case of any doubt, ask questions.
Inform the doctor about any allergies to medicine. Even if not asked by the doctor. It is for your own safety.
If you are under any other medication for some other condition, inform the doctor about it. It might seem unrelated, but might reduce or enhance the effectiveness of either of the medicine. Hence, either another medicine might be required to be given or the dosage might be changed.
#2 Misuse of antibiotics:
If you take an antibiotic more often than you need to, then they might not work for you. Overuse of antibiotics causes antibiotic resistance. There might be situations where antibiotics might not be required, but have been prescribed. Once any antibiotic has been started it should be taken for its entire dosage even if the condition for which it was taken has subsided.
This is when you don’t get the treatment you need in a timely manner. It might be in the form of misdiagnosis or a delay in getting the diagnostic test done or receiving their results.
Human error, miscommunication, limitation of skill or bad planning can be the reason for delays.
How to avoid delays in treatment:
If you have doubts about the diagnosis get a second opinion before starting the treatment. Most of the treatment processes can’t be undone and it’s better to be sure before you begin.
If you don’t hear back from the doctor, don’t assume. Call the doctor back and ask for the status Ask when will you are getting the lab results and if the doctor will be informed about it or you need to take the results to the doctor.
#4 Wrong site of treatment:
This mainly occurs during surgery. People with the same names can be confusing and a wrong surgery could be performed. In case of dentistry it could be a tooth of the opposite side or a different tooth being removed, in the most basic from of error.
How to avoid getting a treatment on the wrong site:
Confirm your name and details with the doctor before the surgery
Be well aware and informed about the site and the procedure to be undertaken.
Discuss the problem with the doctor before the procedure if not asked.
If you feel the doctor is proceeding to the wrong site ask them.
In case of surgery under general anesthesia make sure the right area is marked on your body before surgery.
It is important to ask the doctor about any doubts you have before starting any procedure. Taking charge of your own health and being an informed, active participant in your treatment can save your life at times. Faith is important for a treatment to be successful, but blind faith is NOT.