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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Medical and surgical errors

Medical and surgical mistakes are very common in the hospital setting. They increase malpractice lawsuits, the cost of medical care, patients’ hospital stays, and morbidity and mortality. Being a physician did not spare me from being exposed to many errors in my medical and surgical care. A manuscript describing my personal experiences facing medical and surgical errors in my care was published in Disabled-World.com

The best way of preventing errors is to be your own advocate:

1. Decrease chances of medical errors by being informed and not hesitating to challenge and ask for explanations 
2. Become an “expert” in your condition 
3. Have a family or friend(s) with you in the hospital to act as you advocate 
4. Get a second opinion 
5. Educate your medical caregivers about your condition and needs (prior to and after surgery) 

It is my hope that greater vigilance by the medical community will reduce these errors.

The steps in my opinion that medical personal need to implement to prevent errors are:

1. Implement better and uniform medical training
2. Adhere to well established standards of care
3. Perform regular records review to detect and correct medical errors
4. Employ only well educated and trained medical staff
5. Counsel, reprimand, educate and when necessary dismiss staff members who make errors 
6. Develop and meticulously follow algorithms, set procedures and bedside checklist for all procedures
7. Increase supervision and communication between health care providers
8. Investigate all errors and take action to prevent them
9. Educate and inform the patient and caregiver(s) about the patient condition and treatment plans
10. Have family member and/or friend be patient advocate to ensure the appropriateness of the management.
11. Respond to patients & family complaints. Admit responsibility when appropriate and discuss these with the family and staff and take action to prevent them.

Dr Brook presented a lecture on medical errors at the American Society of Clinical Oncology  in June 2012. The contents of the lecture was published in the ASCO Educational Book. A news release about the symposium was published at the ASCO Daily News.