Medical errors are way more common than any of us would like to believe.
That is why it’s important to take your own health – and that of your loved ones – in your own hands.
People often rely solely on what their doctor has told them about their health. But the fact is that everyone makes mistakes from time to time. It could be an oversight, a technical error, or some other cause – but the fact remains that mistakes are made. Therefore, to get the best healthcare possible, it’s our responsibility – in conjunction with our healthcare provider – to find ways to avoid errors and get the right diagnosis.
Myth vs. Fact – What You Need to Know About Medical Errors
Here, we break down five common medical error myths and show you the facts.
1. No News Is Good News = Myth
Fact: A New York Times article recently reported on a study that found that in nearly 7% of cases, doctors never informed their patients of clinically significant findings. That may not seem like a huge percentage, but when you break it down, that’s thousands of patients.
If you have had tests and don’t hear back from your doctor, don’t assume that means there’s nothing to report. Call your doctor’s office within a few weeks and set up an appointment to go over the test results.
2. Asking for a Second Opinion Is Disloyal = Myth
Fact: It seems like people put more effort into finding the right vehicle than they do with getting a proper diagnosis. If you or your loved one has worrisome symptoms, don’t simply take your doctor’s word for it that everything is ok.
It’s ok to ask for a second opinion. In many cases, your doctor won’t be surprised that you want one. Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to a specialist or for a copy of your medical records/test results to take to another doctor.
If your doctor gives you any grief for wanting a second opinion, this is a good sign that it’s time to find another doctor.
3. It Won’t Happen to Me = Myth
Fact: Unfortunately – it might. According to some estimates, the occurrence of medical errors is around 5%-15% of the time.
AARP recently reported on a study that found over 350 errors out of 800 patient hospital records.
What was especially disturbing about this report is that researchers found that those at higher risk of medical errors were the elderly and those with complex health conditions.
4. It Won’t Happen to My Doctor = Myth
Fact: Your doctor might be the best listener and the most educated person in the world, but they can still make a mistake. Why? As much as we hate to admit it – no one is perfect.
5. Most Diagnostic Errors Happen with Rare Diseases
Fact: Actually, most diagnostic errors occur with some very commonplace diseases. These include:
- Myocardial infarction
- Breast, colorectal, and lung cancers
- Pulmonary embolism
- Drug overdose or adverse drug reaction
- Acute coronary syndrome
A Checklist to Help You Get the Right Diagnosis
To help avoid errors and ensure patients get the right diagnosis, multiple checklists have been made available online. Here are some of the tips/questions provided that will help you and your loved one get the information you need to receive the best medical care.
- Be Clear – Give your doctor as much information as possible. Make a note of when and where your symptoms started, what made them better or worse, and if they could be related to food or medication.
- Do Your Research – If your doctor recommends a test, medication, or procedure, do thorough research to find out why you need it.
- Follow Up – If you’ve had a test, find out when your doctor will receive the results and make a follow-up appointment.
Keep Your Loved One Safe – Get Home Health Assistance
One of the best things you can do to keep your loved one safe is to provide them with in-home health care. As people age, and as life gets busier, it can be difficult to ensure our loved one’s safety – especially when it comes to injury/illness prevention and medication safety.
With assistance from home health aides, though, you’re one step closer to keeping your loved one safe and sound.
If you’re a caretaker, don’t take everything on by yourself. Get some help from Intrepid USA. We have a great track record, and you can be confident that our aides will always keep your loved one healthy, happy, and safe.