How to avoid medical mistakes

The “July effect” is not sunburn or dehydration but instead refers to the increase in fatalities and medical mishaps at teaching hospitals.Why? Well, a batch of new and inexperienced residents hits teaching hospitals every July. According to a study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, teaching hospitals can see a 10 percent increase in fatalities in July, most of them a result of errors in prescribing and administering medications.

MSN just released an article advising patients on how best to ensure their medical safety, and the advice is not limited just to the summer months! Some information patients should obtain from their physicians includes a hospital’s infection rates (you want a hospital with a rate of zero in 1,000 catheter days for at least a year) as well as the physician’s success rate and experience with the patient’s surgery/condition.Patients should also avoid scheduling surgeries late in the week or weekends. Nights and holidays are also not good choices for surgery.

Other things to look for are hospitals with electronic records so you, and your caregivers, can better track your prescriptions and treatments. Be aware of shift changes, be diligent with anti-bacterial gel, and make sure your doctor marks the spot to be operated upon while you are conscious. Also, have advocates with you to ask questions and keep an eye on things.