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How Patients Can Help to Reduce Medical Error Rates Through Communication

How Patients Can Help to Reduce Medical Error Rates Through Communication

Patients who suffer injuries as a result of medical negligence should never have to wonder if they could have done something to prevent the harm that occurred. To be clear, when a patient sustains an injury because of a health care provider’s mistake, that patient can often file a medical malpractice claim in order to seek compensation. Yet it is also important for patients to know that they may be able to take certain steps to reduce the likelihood of a medical mistake happening and causing patient harm. A recent article in Psychology Today focuses on the communication that occurs between a patient and a health care provider and the importance of focusing on effective communication. Although a patient is not responsible for a health care provider’s error (and may be able to seek compensation when an error causes injury), a patient may be able to limit the likelihood that a mistake will happen.

Medical System Does Not Focus on Doctor-Patient Communication

The article in Psychology Today focuses on the way that the current incarnation of the health care system does not focus on intensive doctor-patient communication. Rather, that article points out, “many patients feel that they are on the conveyor belt of modern medicine, quickly being herded in and out without care and attention.” There are many different reasons for this, ranging from a doctor actually being neglectful of the patient’s needs to “constraints of paperwork or insurance regulations” and health care system requirements. 

In short, patients do not often feel that they have enough time with a doctor and that they are not able to communicate effectively with a health care provider. Improved communication is, in some cases, something that patients have some control over. When a patient provides detailed and clear information to a provider and asks questions about anything that is unclear, the likelihood of certain types of medical errors, including medication mistakes and diagnostic errors, may decline.

Ways of Improving Your Communication With Your Doctor

What steps can a patient take to improve communication with a doctor or other health care provider? Consider some of the following:

  • Bring a list of questions or concerns with you to ask your provider before you get to the office;
  • Ask questions about any instructions you do not understand, and ask for clarification if your health care provider uses a word or terminology that is unclear or unknown to you;
  • Answer your health care provider’s questions honestly and be sure to provide details about symptoms or health history;
  • Ask your doctor to slow down if need be; and
  • Consider having a partner with you (such as a spouse, family member, or close friend) who can also ask questions and ensure that your health care provider has all relevant information.

Contact a Santa Fe Medical Malpractice Attorney

Patients may be able to take some steps to reduce the likelihood of certain kinds of medical errors. However, it is also critical for patients to know that doctors can be liable when they make mistakes. If you have questions about your health care injury or need assistance filing a medical negligence claim, you should get in touch with one of our experienced Santa Fe medical malpractice lawyers. Contact Slate Stern Law to learn more.