Being Your Own Patient Advocate

December 18, 2011
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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.