Patient Guide
  • Download PDF
  • Outreach Partners
  • Other PBS Activities

Road Map To American Health Care
  •  You The Patient
  •  Who Pays For You
  •  Who Manages Your Health Dollars
  •  Who Takes Care Of You

Tips For The Consumer
  •  Help Prevent Errors
  •  Questions To Ask Your Doctor
  •  Choosing A Health Plan
  •  Getting Children Enrolled
  •  Choosing A Medicare HMO
  •  Tips From the Experts

Questions For Candidates

Help In Your Hometown

National Organizations
  •  Disease Groups
  •  Specific Populations

Buy the tape

Buy The Tape

10 Things You Can Do To Help Prevent A Medical Error in Your Health Care

  1. Be your own best advocate! Don't be shy when asking your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist questions. You have the right to voice any concerns with the people who are involved in your care. It may help to bring in a written list of questions to make sure you don't forget any during your office visit. If you are medically hindered from speaking your concerns, see to it that you have a family member or friend with you to take charge while you can't.

  2. Educate yourself about your illness and the possible treatments that may be available to you.

  3. Keep in mind medical errors can occur anywhere, not just in hospitals, but in doctors' offices, clinics, nursing homes, and pharmacies. Errors can involve not just medication, but surgery, diagnosis of the patient, medical equipment, and lab reports.

  4. Make sure that all of the staff looking after you are aware of any other prescriptions, dietary supplements, or vitamins that you may be taking. Bringing your medications with you to doctor appointments may help you and your doctor discuss their content and any potential problems with any new medication prescribed.

  5. Be sure that your physician is aware of any allergies or previous ailments that you may have had.

  6. A doctor's handwriting can sometimes be confusing, so make sure that you can read every word on the prescription he or she writes you. In the end, this will not only benefit you, but your pharmacist as well.

  7. When the medicine is prescribed to you, be certain that you understand under what conditions the medicine is to be taken. For example, how many times a day, with or without food, are there any side effects to be aware of, etc. Ask your doctor to explain the names of generic brands verses brand name versions of prescription medication. In other words, what are all the possible names of a medication you should be taking?

  8. When choosing a hospital, research the facilities that have experience performing the procedure that you need administered. See Help In Your Hometown and National Health Care Organizations to get started.

  9. Before you leave the hospital, ask your doctor to explain in detail the treatment you will receive on your road to recovery.

  10. Don't assume that all the individuals who are involved know everything they need to know about your health. If you are going through a surgical procedure, it is imperative that the doctor, the nurse, the surgeon and his/her staff are aware of and agree on the procedure being performed.

  Home | Helping You | Information and Resources | Program Content |
About Us | Join The Discussion