How to Avoid Becoming a Medical Mistake

A mother’s imspiring story helps others avoid medical mistakes with helpful tips from her new book.


Medical mistakes cause nearly 100,000 deaths every year. One of those fatalities was Josie King, an 18-month-old whose mother has recently written a book to help other patients—large and small—avoid danger. Josies Story: A Mothers Inspiring Crusade to Make Medical Care Safe includes lots of stay-safe tips, including these:

1. Take notes
Keep track of names of staff, medications, test results, and procedures on a notepad or in your iPhone (or have a loved one do it). The minute youre confused, demand clarification.

2. Insist on hand-washing
Hospital-acquired infections like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) account for 99,000 deaths every year. So when a doctor or nurse comes into the room, ask her to wash her hands before she touches you.

3. Hello, my name is …
Identify yourself constantly. Whenever the nurse (or anyone treating you) gives you meds or anything else, make sure she checks your hospital-issued ID bracelet and then ask her, “Is this for me? My name is _____.” The average patient experiences one drug mistake in the hospital every day.

Last Updated: June 03, 2010

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