Consumer Tips on Preventing Medical Errors

The Institute of Medicine published a report a few years ago called “To Err is Human” which should scare all of us.  There has been some debate on the facts, but here are a couple of critical findings:

  • As many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. This means that more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS.
  • Medication errors lead to 7,000 deaths per year and the cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality is estimated at $177 billion annually.

So, the question in my mind is what is being done to educate the consumer about how to avoid errors.  Systemically, I know there are several things being pursued.  But, it is easy to be the victim of an error.  I had two prescription errors in one year from my local Walgreens.  First, they gave me ear drops for my eyes.  Second, they gave me a antibiotic for my son which wasn’t filled with enough water.
When I was looking around for advice, I found these 20 tips from  the Agency for Healthcare Research and Design.  They highlight several things which in many cases boil down to asking questions:

  • Did you wash your hands?
  • Is this the medication that my doctor called in?
  • Do you know what I am allergic to?
  • Do you do this procedure often?
  • Can you write down the important instructions?
  • What does that word you used mean?

I also saw several other interesting things at the Agency’s website such as a Pocket Guide to Good Health for Adults.

You can also find more information about prescription safety from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

2 Responses to “Consumer Tips on Preventing Medical Errors”

  1. Your tips are really fantastic and very useful to me.
    I too found a site which guides all consumers to become healthier, safer, and more prosperous. Learn about the revealing powerful tips and get motivated.


  1.   Consumer Tips on Preventing Medical Errors by - September 16, 2007

    […] the cost of drug-related morbidity and mortality is estimated at $177 …article continues at George Van Antwerp brought to you by and […]

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