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What precautions can a patient take to avoid medical errors?

Residents of New Jersey may have read about various cases when a patient was not correctly diagnosed with an illness or was given the wrong medication, or even cases when the medical professional conducted a wrong-site surgery or other surgical errors. These acts of medical malpractice can have serious affects on the health of a person. However, patients can avoid some of these errors by taking certain precautions.

While visiting a doctor, a patient may have certain concerns relating to their health issue. It is best to clarify all doubts, hence the patient should choose a doctor with whom the patient can talk to comfortably. If the person has a friend or relative who understands medical terminology better, then the patient can take that person along during medical visits.

The patient should also have a list of all medicines they take. Along with this list, the patient should inform the medical professionals of any drug allergies. When the doctor prescribes medicine, it is better to ask about any side effects of the drugs and restrictions to follow while taking them. The patient can also ask the pharmacist about the medication and read the label and warnings on the medicines.

Before an operation, the patient can ask the doctor and the anesthesiologist about the process. This can help the patient to be certain that the medical professionals agree on the process that will be done during the operation. However, this is not possible in every situation, as it is not required that the person is conscious and aware of the situation.

Although these safety tips can help the patient to a certain extent, the safety of the patient lies with the medical professionals. In case the patient suffers due to medical negligence, that person may be able to take suitable recourse under the law.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, "Five Steps to Safer Health Care," Accessed on Nov. 20, 2014

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