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Ways that patients can help prevent medical errors

Florida patients should be aware of options available to them to help reduce the risk of medical errors and complications arising from malpractice. The federal government says hospitals and health care providers generally are performing better than ever before, but there are still more than 400,000 people that die each year due to preventable hospital errors . Engaged patients tend to be more satisfied with the quality of care they receive and less likely to manifest hospital-related medical problems later.

Assuming that their hospital visits are elective, patients should research the ratings of nearby hospitals and the infection rates from each one in order to find quality health care with a lower incidence of preventable patient cross-contamination. They should try to find out who the patient's health care coordinator at the hospital will be, so the patient and family have someone to speak to regarding matters of concern. A family member or friend should be appointed to speak on the patient's behalf concerning the patient's wishes if this becomes necessary.

It is always a good idea to ask medical staff to wash their hands when entering the room and before touching the patient. Patients should not be afraid to ask questions, numerous times if necessary, until the answers are clear. They should always have all medications, including over-the-counter medicines and vitamins, present to avoid risk of harmful drug interactions.

A medical malpractice claim based on hospital negligence carries unique challenges with it. An attorney for an injured victim may need to review the patient's medical history, the performance record of the hospital and the specific providers involved in the patient's care and other relevant factors to determine how and by whom the error was made and whether it constituted a failure to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

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