Patient Safety Week – Final Post – Protecting Yourself

As we wrap-up Patient Safety Week, we want to conclude with some steps you can take to prevent being the victim of a medical error:

1. Write down questions you have of your doctor so you do not forget to ask about issues that are important to you;

2. Do not be afraid to ask questions about your medications, risks v. benefits of procedures, alternative treatment options, etc. This is your health and life and you are entitled to have a complete understanding of all issues. If your doctor is reluctant or hostile to such questions, you should seriously consider changing doctors.

3. If possible, seek a second opinion before undergoing any significant procedure or treatment.

4. If possible, before seeking treatment from a provider, do you research on such sites as www.healthgrades.com and health.state.tn.us.

5. Keep a list of your medications and dosage amounts and be sure each doctor involved in your care has a copy to prevent dangerous drug interactions. This includes vitamins, herbal remedies and dietary supplements.

6. Take a relative or friend with you to your doctor’s appointments so you have someone else who can help digest new information and take notes.

7. Follow-up on any test results. The old adage "no news is good news" is not necessarily true in the medical context. 

8. Take medication as prescribed. Set a timer or write a post-it note to help remember to take medications at the appropriate time.

9. Keep a journal to help you track your symptoms. By doing this, you or your doctor might discover a pattern that suggests a particular activity, food, etc. is causing your symptoms to onset or worsen.

10. Do not be afraid to get help. You know your body better than anyone. If you think something is amiss, take action. Do not try to tough it out or worry about being embarrassed if it turns out to be nothing. Better to be a little embarrassed than ignore a serious problem.

That is it for Patient Safety Week. May you be blessed with good health.