(StatePoint) Is your doctor’s office safe enough? One in five Americans report that they or one of their family members have been on the receiving end of mistakes in a doctor’s office or hospital, according to recent research.
Patient safety issues should be near the top of your list when choosing medical care for your family.
Here are some tips to help make sure your next doctor’s visit is a safe one:
• Communication is key. Make sure the doctor has your complete medical history, including all allergies and medications you take (even nonprescription ones). Never be embarrassed to say you don’t understand or ask questions about medical treatments, medicines, or anything else. Before signing any medical forms, make sure you understand them. If you think something is wrong, speak up.
• Scrutinize all equipment and instruments.
• Needle safety is critical when giving a blood sample or receiving a shot. Millions of accidental needlestick injuries occur yearly. These can spread hepatitis, HIV, tuberculosis, syphilis, malaria and many other infections.
• Double-check medicines, including samples. Make sure you receive the right medicine and know how to use it. Read all labels, especially warnings and instructions when you get any medicine — whether it’s from the pharmacy or a sample from your doctor. If you are given a prescription, make sure it is legible.
• Cleanliness is king. Don’t be afraid to remind doctors or nurses to wash their hands. It’s the best way to prevent the spread of infections.
Many medical mistakes are easily preventable. Better communication can resolve many medication errors. It’s up to the doctor and patient to make sure the environment is safe and communication is good.