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Communication and vigilance key to preventing being a victim of medical errors

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Patient Safety revealed that more than 400,000 people in the U.S. die each year as a result of preventable medical errors. From surgical mistakes, misdiagnosis errors and complications stemming from infections; hospital-related medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Based on these frightening statistics, it's more important than ever for patients and their family members to be vigilant about the level of care they are provided.

To help prevent being the victim of a potentially serious and deadly medical mistake, patients and their loved ones are advised to become informed about their health and any related conditions. Additionally, patients would be wise to provide their healthcare providers with any and all relevant information, ask questions about their care and treatment plans and question a doctor or nurse when something isn't clear or doesn't seem right.

Errors that occur prior to, during and after surgical procedures are among the most potentially deadly of all medical mistakes. Surgical errors may include operating on the wrong side or site, using dirty surgical equipment, leaving surgical equipment inside a patient and post-surgical infections.

Mistakes related to medications are also common and can result in a patient suffering harm, injury and even death. To combat the likelihood of a medication error, a patient would be wise to maintain detailed records of any and all medications that he or she has taken or is currently taking. Additionally, it's wise to ask questions of both a provider and pharmacist about the medications, uses and doses to ensure for accuracy. 

When it comes to one's own healthcare needs, it's important to be educated, prepared and overly communicative. Patients who fail to take charge of their health and healthcare needs are more prone to fall victim to and suffer the ill health effects of medical mistakes.

In cases where an individual does suffer harm due to a medical mistake, an attorney can help determine if legal action is appropriate. 

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality," Aug. 10, 2015

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