Medical mistakes are some of the most devastating problems in health care, mostly because they are often preventable. As a patient, you can play an important role in helping to prevent mistakes. The Joint Commission, an independent nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies health care organizations across the country, shares some tips to stay safe:
• Speak up if you have questions or concerns. If you don’t understand at first, ask again.
• Pay attention and don’t assume anything. Make sure you are getting the right treatments from the right health care professionals.
• Educate yourself about your illness.
• Ask a trusted friend or relative to be your advocate.
• Know what medicines you take and why you take them.
• Use a hospital, clinic, surgery center or other health care organization whose quality has been checked out. (For example, The Joint Commission has resources on its Web site to help you search facilities it has accredited.)
• Participate in all decisions related to your treatment.
For more tips on preventing mistakes, from preventing infection to avoiding mistakes in medical tests and surgery, visit The Joint Commission’s Web site at www.jointcommission.org.