Saturday, July 09, 2011

Preventing medical errors - the role of the patient

Most patients feel that when an error occurs , it’s the doctor who is to blame. It’s true that sometimes there’s very little a patient can do to prevent an error - for example , when the surgeon leaves a swab inside the abdomen during the operation . However, a lot of the times medical errors can be actively prevented if the patient is alert, active, aware and takes an interest in his treatment. Patient’s relatives need to be watchful and observant, so they can make sure that the right medicines are being administered by the nurse in the hospital ; and that the doctor’s orders are being properly carried out.

Isn’t this the medical staff’s job ? Won’t the doctors and nurses get upset if relatives ask questions ? Patients need to speak up – and this is not being meddlesome or interfering with the job of the medical staff ! It’s not right that patients treat themselves as helpless victims when they are stuck in hospital. It’s far better than they learn to take an active role in their treatment , to make sure they get the best possible treatment. This is something they can do for themselves and do not have to depend upon anyone else !

However, it does take effort ! You need to be well-informed, so you know exactly what’s going on; you need to become an expert, so you understand what’s being done; and when; and why. You don’t need to be aggressive – but you need to be assertive. Remember, everyone in the hospital wants the patient to get better – you are all on the same side, and your interests are aligned, so there’s no need to be confrontational or rude ! You cannot change anyone else's behaviour - but you can improve yours !


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1 comment:

  1. Dr. Malpani,
    How do you feel about firms using EHRs or PHRs to provide more information to patients, specifically programs that allow patients access to their health information outside of the office or hospital? My firm is planning on implementing a behavioral heath software, and we're looking to see if we want to find a software that allows patients to access their records.
    Thanks!

    Daniel Gonzales

    ReplyDelete

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