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Tips for preventing medical errors

According to a study published in the journal BMJ in May, medical errors may be the third leading cause of death in the country. New Mexico patients who are hospitalized for surgery can take steps to protect themselves from these types of errors.

First, it is important to understand the procedure itself and whether surgery is necessary. There might be alternatives. A doctor should back up opinion with data from clinical trials. People who make the decision with their physician that surgery is the right choice can research surgeons and choose one who has done the procedure many times. The surgeon should be board-certified and have strong professional credentials. The surgeon should be willing to openly discuss risks and complications of the procedure and provide literature that a person can read or videos to watch that go into more detail.

People should be unafraid to ask why any given test is being done and what impact the test or its results will have on their care. They should also understand the risks of the test and how it compares to the benefits. People should question any medication that they are given because the wrong medication or dosage can be the source of many medical errors. They should ask why they are being given the medication and what the dosage is.

A surgical error can be devastating and may range from wrong-site surgery to damaging an internal organ in the course of surgery to leaving instruments or a sponge in the body. A person who has been harmed by a surgical mistake may want to meet with an attorney to see how best to seek compensation for the additional medical costs and other losses that resulted from the error.

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