How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Medical Error

On Behalf of | Nov 20, 2014 | Personal Injury

A recent study puts the number of people who die each year from medical errors that occur in hospitals at between 210,000 and 440,000. These figures make medical errors the third leading cause of death, with heart disease and cancer being at number one and number two. Although some in the medical field dispute the study’s numbers as too high, three prominent researchers in the patient safety field have concluded that the study’s findings are credible.

Medical errors can occur anywhere in the health system, including hospitals, physicians’ offices, outpatient surgical centers, clinics, nursing homes, laboratories, pharmacies, and even in a patient’s home. An error can occur because of diagnostic mistakes, during surgery, from medicines, equipment or lab reports. Even a hospital patient given a meal that does not coincide with their diet can cause a serious medical error.

There are actions that patients can take to help ensure they do not become victims of medical errors. These tips include:

Surgery and Hospital Stays

  1. If you have a choice in which hospital you can have your surgery performed at, research which hospitals in your area have more experience with the type of procedure you are having done.
  2. Wrong-site surgery is too common and is 100 percent preventable. Make sure that all medical personnel are in agreement of what procedure you are having done and the location of the surgery on your person.
  3. Do not hesitate to ask any hospital staff who will be touching you if they have washed their hands, something they should be required to do to stop the spread of infections.


  1. Make sure all doctors you are seeing know all the medications you are taking, including prescription, over-the-counter and any dietary supplements. In fact, it is best to bring all your medication with you when you go for appointments.
  2. Tell your doctor about any allergies or reactions you have to medications. Make sure this information is included in your medical records.
  3. When you are given a new prescription, make sure you understand and are given easy to read instructions about what the medication is for, what the dosage is and how long do you need to take the medication; the possible side-effects; how will it interact with other medications you take; and what food or activities should be avoided while you are taking the medication.
  4. When you pick up the medication, verify it is the medication your doctor prescribed.

Other Actions

  1. If you are in the hospital, or have more than one serious health condition, there should be one physician who coordinates and oversees all of your medical care.
  2. Do not be afraid to question why a certain test or treatment is necessary. Make sure you know how long the results of test will take and how you will be notified.
  3. Never be afraid to ask questions. It is your right and the doctor’s obligation to answer them.

If you have experienced injury or illness as a victim of medical error, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what compensation you may be entitled to for pain and loss.