Some of the most valuable patient safety lessons learned don’t come from medical textbooks, but rather from the experience of being the patient. Patients often find themselves in situations where they could suffer from medical errors, if they don’t pay close attention. Medical errors are all too common and can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. It is probably not hard to think of someone you know who has suffered from a medical error.
Many medical errors are preventable if critical information is just repeated and verified. This article will give you some examples of common medical situations that should never happen and tips for preventing them.
Repeat Allergy and Medication Information:
It sounds simple enough . . . you tell your medical providers what allergies you have, they record it in their records and you are all set, right? Wrong! You should be repeating what allergies you have to every health care provider you come in contact with. Why, do you need to do this? Because sadly, health care providers often do not take the time to read your chart before they see you or you may see multiple providers during one appointment.
I have personally had health care providers try to prescribe an antibiotic for me that I am allergic to because they didn’t look at my chart. As a patient in the hospital, I have also had multiple staff approach me with latex gloves on even though there was a large sign above my bed reading LATEX ALLERGY.
Sometimes, in paperless offices, health care providers do not even have a chart to read. They have a single sheet of computer generated paper or a lap top computer to use. In these cases, they are relying on patient information previously entered into a computer.
At one of my most recent doctor appointments, I was shocked to learn the nurse had no idea that I was allergic to latex and had multiple other drug allergies. It seems they had recently gone paperless and the person entering the data had simply forgotten to enter the alerts. The nurse had no idea how many other patient records were incomplete — how frightening is that?
The same scenario is true for medications. You should repeat what prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and supplements you are taking to your health care providers at each appointment, whether they ask you or not. This is especially true if they are going to be prescribing a new medication for you.