While most medical errors/adverse events occur in the hospital setting, beware they can occur in any outpatient medical care setting. Worldwide, as many as 4 in 10 patients are harmed in primary and outpatient healthcare settings, with up to 80% of those medical errors preventable, according to the nonprofit Foundation for the Innovation and Development of Health Safety. Think your doctor’s office, walk-in clinic, pharmacy clinic. you recall from an earlier blog  3-17% of all hospital admission suffer an adverse event and medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US (2016).  

Errors in outpatient settings generally fall into one of these 3 categories:

  • Diagnostic – such as an error or delay in diagnosis
  • Treatment – error in an operation, procedure, medication, or test
  • Preventive – inadequate monitoring or follow-up of treatment

Common medical errors that occur in ambulatory settings – that includes your doc’s office are prescribing errors 39%, transcribing 11% dispensing 12% administering 38%. Preventable errors include not giving you an earlier appointment, for a potentially serious problem -ex. foot pain or cut on foot in a diabetic. Beware, a leading cause of the error is delayed treatment accounting for over 50% of cases that result in death. Establishing a rapport with support staff is critical, even if they are new how you introduce your need for an appointment can ensure timely care.

For example, after your name state your condition(s) for which you see the doctor, then what your problem presently is: “Hi, this is Ann Richard birthday 6/11/1957,  I’m one of Dr. T’s diabetic patients and he told me whenever I have a problem with my skin to get in as soon as possible. Yesterday I cut myself in the garden and bled for a while it still doesn’t look good.’ don’t overdo it and say no need for an emergency room visit. Also if you can’t get in soon ask for the nurse. another option is to have the scheduling person check with Dr. T on your behalf. Another in your armamentarium is “Doc, hates me running to the ER and he told me to insist on getting into his office to be seen”.

Don’t think the responsibility falls on everyone else but yourself! Don’t presume because they gave you an appointment three weeks out that you can really wait three weeks to be seen. Beware, when you have an upcoming visit, start planning, gather what you want them to see from another visit or a study, do not presume your records got to your caregiver. Having your exact issues-what when and how in your condition brought you to be ‘seen’ written. All medical folks seem rushed sticking a copy of your typed issues goes further than the multiple pages you complete on ‘intake’. Believe me! bring more than one copy, present it on signing in and ask to have it put in your record.

Listen well, ask if you think you may become anxious ask if you can record with your phone or take written notes. Most important is that you leave there with exactly the diagnosis or condition even if the doctor isn’t sure he or she should mention what he or she is considering and what the plan is: test(s), medication(s), and referral. It’ll be so important to have this information. If you call by scheduling to have a CAT scan of your right elbow when indeed you need your left elbow or you need your left knee not your elbow -you see why it’s important to have your notes of the ‘plan’. Hence you will not be second-guessing yourself.

The ACA required electronic records in the healthcare setting, no surprise given16% of physicians have illegible handwriting -turbocharge error and a common cause of a prescription error. Now mostly electronic transmission to pharmacies occurs. but if you find that you are giving a handwritten prescription try to read it if you have any questions ask the doctor and if he has already scrambled out of the room ask the nurse then write it down yourself so you’re sure that you get the correct medication. Don’t be shy ask exactly how to spell it. The pharmacist can make mistakes by miss reading and misinterpreting a scratch on the pad

If you had a test don’t think no news is good news, when you have an x-ray the radiologist has to interpret it within 24 hours and get a report out so waiting weeks is a bit ridiculous. The more you sound informed the more you gonna be respected in the better care I believe you will end up getting. Remember you are your own best advocate against the system. when comes to waiting for the medical office to get back to you with the results.

This is an introductory sensitizing blog on a critical topic I wish you to aware of – BEWARE!