Monday, February 6, 2012

Patient Safety: How To Reduce Your Chance of a Medical Error

Here’s what Consumer Reports and Dr. Peter Pronovost, senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine, say patients can do to keep themselves safe when they go to a hospital.
  • Do your homework. Go to the Web sites Hospital Compare and the Joint Commission and look up hospitals in your Zip code. Based on that information, ask your doctor which ones they trust.
  • Ask a malpractice lawyer which hospitals are safe.
  • Find out if the procedure you’re having is one that both your physician and the hospital do often. “You don’t want a doctor or hospital that dabbles in your procedure,” Pronovost says.
  • Ask if the physician and hospital use a checklist.
  • When you go to the hospital, have a list of all your medications and medical problems and give it to the doctors and nurses caring for you.
  • Ask if physicians and nurses have washed their hands before they touch you. You may feel uncomfortable asking this, but it’s for your own safety.
  • If you have an invasive device in your body, such as a catheter, either you or a family member or a friend should ask every day if you need to have it in your body and when it can be taken out.
  • Bring a friend or family member with you to be your advocate, ask questions, and record the answers.
This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.