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Steps Maryland patients can take to avoid medical mistakes

Medical errors can happen anytime are not only limited to hospitals. They can also occur in clinics, doctor's offices, surgery centers and other areas of the healthcare system. One out of every seven Medicare patients experience some form of medical mistake. With preventable medical errors now the third leading reason for deaths in the United States, trailing only heart disease and cancer, Maryland residents should take all the necessary steps to avoid being part of the statistics.

When visiting a doctor, communication is key. Patients should be clear about the symptoms that they are experiencing and the medications that they have taken. When a patient has trouble reading a prescription, do not be ashamed to ask the doctor. On the other hand, doctors should be clear about the reason for the medication, the length and duration of the prescription and the drug's possible side effects. The adverse effects of taking certain foods and doing particular activities while on this medication should also be discussed with the patient.

Hospital stays and surgery are often sensitive topics and prone to doctor errors and medical mistakes. Even the most simple of health practices, like hand washing, is essential to prevent medical mistakes. Before undergoing a medical procedure, it is important for a patient to be informed by the doctor and other medical staff of the reason for the surgery and the procedure. Possible complications should also be discussed. If possible, patients should choose a hospital that specializes in the surgery that they need.

Medical mistakes can lead to infection and unexpected complications that not only result in a worsened condition, but can also lead to death. This can be a life-altering situation for a patient's family. If such a situation occurs, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed by the patient or the family. Legal action is a viable way to hold a negligent party accountable and receive compensation.

Source: Ahrq.gov, "20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors," accessed on July 24, 2014

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