Being Your Own Patient Advocate

December 18, 2011


Joe and Teresa Graedon’s book “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them” is an acknowledgment that serious mistakes are made at every hospital in America on a daily basis. Its genesis started with their own nightmare involving Joe’s mother’s care in an NC hospital.

The Graedon’s book contains more than a dozen lists to help patients and families get the best care. It includes:

  • Lists of common mistakes made in hospitals or by doctors and pharmacists.
  • Lists of tips to prevent medical errors, dangerous drug interactions and diagnostic disasters.
  • Suggestions to promote good communication and survive old age.
Here is some advice:
  • Expect mistakes and have an advocate.
  • Check every medicine. Make sure the dose is right.
  • Be assertive
  • Demand an explanation.
  • Be vigilant during transitions, from one floor to another, or when shifts change.
  • Alert the nurse or “rapid response team,” if something seems wrong.
  • Obtain detailed discharge instructions and contact information. Know what symptoms might signal a worsening situation or infection.
  • Hospital doctors may never speak to your primary care physician. Take your records and don’t assume doctors already know what’s in them.
  • Double-check everything. Don’t assume no news is good news or that test results are always correct.
  • Take a friend or family member to doctor’s visits. Nearly every error made in the hospital can also be made in the outpatient setting.