Monitoring For Medical Mistakes

Trust can be one of the most difficult things to establish. Every day, we must trust other people to do things that are beyond our control. We trust that our financial institutions are protecting our personal data. We trust that our co-workers are following safety procedures. We even trust the strangers in oncoming traffic to stay in their own lane.

One of the biggest areas where we must trust others is our health. Few of us know enough about medicine to take care of ourselves and our families, so we trust people—often strangers—to do what’s best for us. Of course, we typically don’t encounter any problems, but we should always remember the old expression: Trust, but verify.

How do we verify the competence of health care providers who interact with ourselves and our families?

Check Their Work

Accidents happen. There is no way around that. The medical profession is alert to that, and every action has a series of verification steps designed to minimize the incidence of errors in diagnosis and treatment. But even with their best efforts, sometimes we make mistakes. Some of the simple things don’t really matter, but if you are dealing with medications that regulate essential bodily processes or that regulate conditions like anxiety, it’s vital that every detail is correct.

When the best policies and procedures have failed, there are still opportunities for you to catch oversights by medical personnel. This can be as much work as maintaining your own records and schedules for hospitalized loved ones, or as simple as having quick access to an online pill identifier to verify that prescriptions have been filled accurately.

The more layers of verification there are, the better the chance that no mistake gets through. And speaking of verification, we come to our next point.

Review Caregivers

As you begin to seek a new doctor or other practitioner, you have many options for making sure that he or she is competent and has had no significant issues with past patients. While there are emergency circumstances where we may be unable to review the people who care for us or our family, most doctors can be checked out first.

The Internet provides a wealth of information about these professionals. You can find out where the person was trained and see if there has been any action taken against his or her licensure. You can also search for past lawsuits and find out what the outcome was.

This brings us to two major caveats. First, don’t utilize consumer-type reviews of physicians. These aren’t always reliable or substantive. Instead, focus on government-run sites with factual data. Also, remember that a settled lawsuit isn’t the same as a judgment against a doctor. Sometimes malpractice insurance providers will settle such cases because it’s cheaper than pursuing it in court.

With that said, know the doctor before that first visit.

Be Your Own Coordinator

The days of the old general practitioner are gone. We all see a variety of doctors for each of the various conditions we may be dealing with. Each of those doctors will prescribe certain things in terms of diet, exercise, therapy, and of course, medications. Taken alone, that’s not a problem, but if someone isn’t monitoring the big picture, trouble can result.

Make sure you know what you are taking, eating, and doing, and keep all your various doctors apprised of all of those factors as well as any changes made in them. Conflicts between the medications you take can lead to dangerous interactions, which at the least will impact their effectiveness and at the most, could be deadly.

When you’re seeing several different specialists, they can’t all keep up with what the others may be doing, so it’s up to you to look out for yourself.

Healthcare today is complicated. Staying alert and aware of what is happening to our bodies is essential to good health.