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How to protect yourself against medical errors

When you need medical care in the Seattle area, your first thought may be to delay making an appointment. This is because you probably keep hearing about how unsuspecting patients are becoming victims of medical mistakes and negligence. Every day, doctors, nurses and other medical staff make mistakes that increase the amount of fear and distrust patients have for them. 

Medical errors and negligence are major issues that can lead to drastically different outcomes than anticipated by patients and their health care providers. Besides the risk of complications, there is a higher chance of patients developing serious health conditions that diminish their quality of health, life and life expectancy. You do not need to avoid your medical team to stay safe. Review the following suggestions on how you can protect yourself from medical malpractice and negligence situations: 

Speak up 

You should not feel intimidated by your doctor's bedside manner. When she or he asks about your health and if you have any concerns or issues to know about, speak up. Doctors see many patients each day and are more familiar with issues and symptoms you may feel are too embarrassing to share. 

Be honest about all medications, vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medications you currently take. This information decreases the risk of your doctor prescribing the wrong meds and helps prevent adverse reactions. If you do not understand recommendations, ask for clarification. 

Bring a family member to appointments 

If you are forgetful, consider bringing a trusted family member or friend with you. You need someone you can count on to pay attention, ask questions you may not think to ask and act as your personal advocate. Not all medical visits are exams. There may be times where you must undergo diagnostics or procedures where you may be placed under anesthesia. Having a family member who is there with you every step of the way can keep mistakes and negligence issues from occurring while you are unconscious and unable to speak and act for yourself. 

Get more professional opinions 

No matter what kind of treatment recommendations you receive, you should at least get a second opinion from a specialist. You may have a lot of faith and trust in your doctor, but she or he can make mistakes. If he or she does, you may not learn of them until you come back complaining of complications. Specialists have far more experience, training and knowledge about their fields and know how to avoid mistakes often made by more generalized practitioners. 

Your doctor and medical team can only perform their jobs to their best capabilities when you play an active role in the delivery of your care. Speak up and hold medical staff accountable for their actions so they will do everything possible to provide the standard of care you deserve and expect.

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