Preventable medical harm is still too common, but experts say patients can take steps to protect themselves.
One out of 20 patients (6%), according to a recent peer-reviewed study on preventable medical errors, has been reviewed by journal BMJ. In addition, about 12% of preventable damage to patients results in "permanent disability" or even death.
The lead author of the study, Maria Panagioti, and her co-authors conducted a meta-analysis of international data from 70 studies involving 337,025 patients. The same results were achieved in the US and in Europe.
Most of this avoidable harm they found was related to medications and other treatments.
Panagioti, a lecturer at the University of Manchester, says about providers and health care systems need to "train patients and empower them to be active partners" in their own care. Under-educated and out-of-service providers, as well as understaffed services, also play a key role in causing preventable patient harm, and make staff training and funding essential, she added in an e-mail.
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Previous research has raised the alarm: a 2016 BMJ study, for example, analyzed four studies of medical mortality rates from 2000 to 2008 and used 2013 hospital admissions rates. Researchers estimated 251,454 US deaths per year – or 9.5% of all US deaths in the US resulted from medical errors, making it the third leading cause of death in the country.
Although much of the medicine may be at the level of the health care provider and the system, there are still such measures Every patient can take that to minimize his risk. "Patients should be equal partners with health professionals to improve the safety and quality of their medical care," said Panagioti.
You and other experts recommended the following:
Make sure you fully understand all the procedures and medications your doctor recommends – and why. "It's very easy for physicians to speak in medical language, which is not easily understood by most people," said John Cullen, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), based in Valdez, Alaska, Family Medicine practiced over MarketWatch. "It's important to have sound explanations about what's actually going on and what the plan is, and really get your doctors to do it."
Tell the doctor about your allergies and health conditions and any other medications you are taking. "If you have someone with you, make sure he knows this information, and if you do not, have it recorded and in sight so that all the people who look after you are aware of it and the information during a rotation are not lost, "said Caitlin Donovan, a spokeswoman for the National Patient Advocate Foundation, said in an e-mail. This list should include all the vitamins or supplements you are taking, added Erica Mobley, Leapfrog Group Healthcare Director.
Do not assume that every provider has access to all your health information. Instead, be prepared to share this with each individual doctor. "Between specialists and their family doctor [and] who even operates, it is assumed that all this information is available and may not be," said Cullen. It is also not a pity to check the medical history in your file if possible, as it can sometimes contain false information.
"We're in an era of cloud information, and that's just not in medicine," Cullen said. "The whole information thing will improve. But at the moment we are in a difficult phase. "
Bring a friend or family member, especially if you have" poor health literacy or communication difficulties, "Panagioti said. "Most people are under-utilized at the hospital. So you need to have a family member or friend in the hospital to keep an eye on things and express themselves when they feel that something is wrong. Really be extremely effective in avoiding potential mistakes, "he said mobley.
If it's not possible to hire a personal lawyer, Mobley added, try to remotely win with tools like FaceTime
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. "[It’s] is not exactly the same, but it certainly can help," she said.
Keep track of your medications and results. Patients should "check twice with their doctor / pharmacist if this type / dose of medication is actually the correct one for their condition, especially if they are receiving this drug for the first time or if there is a major change in dose," said Panagioti. They should also track previous clinical outcomes and be able to identify massive differences between times.
If they got two pink pills every day and the pills are yellow next time, [they should] speak and say, "What's going on?" This is different from what I got, "Mobley added, adding that the discrepancy could mean that your prescription has been changed from a brand name to a generic, but also that you've received the wrong drug.
Make sure your doctor cleans your hands. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of transmission of infection, but research has shown that not all healthcare providers use proper hand hygiene, even when intimidating or uncomfortable It may be important for you to get in touch, and she suggested saying, "Could you please wash your hands?" or "I might have missed it, but can you please make sure you Wash your hands before you examine me? "
And if you still hesitate take it from a doctor:" Hand washing is vital meaning, and it's OK if patients ask if vendors wash their hands, "Cullen said. "That's completely appropriate."
Carefully research. "There's a lot to say to see what's going on – ideally, what the risks and benefits are," Cullen said. However, it's important that you do not overdo Google
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and arrive with a predetermined idea of your condition in the doctor's office, he said, and that you Make sure it's from a reputable source, such as the Mayo Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Medscape, or AAFP-powered FamilyDoctor.org. You can also review sites that provide hospital ratings, Mobley added.
Do not be afraid to say something. "They must be their own lawyers," Mobley said. "The likelihood of failure actually decreases significantly if they are willing and able to express themselves when they have questions or feel that something is wrong." This advice may be particularly relevant to women, research shows They are more likely to be under treatment for pain, have less serious symptoms, and be misdiagnosed more frequently.
"Women should make sure that they mention their primary concern first when they meet with their provider – too many wait until the end of The appointment as a doctor is over," Donovan said. "Bring along a lawyer who can further substantiate and vouch for your experience. It is not fair that one patient's word is not enough, but often it can reinforce your words to have another person there. "The person could be anyone you know and trust," she said, as long as she can stay firm and diplomatic.
] Ask your provider what he is doing to avoid mistakes. Mobley proposed to inquire about the availability of technology to guard against medical errors, and if not, whether other preventive measures exist. Inadequate answers to such a question may include "I do not know" or "We'll take care of it, you do not have to worry," Mobley said, "if the doctor rejects or disparages your concern, that's a red flag." 19659027]