The U.S. Department of Human and Health services estimates that one in seven Medicare patients will experience some type of medical error and with the Affordable Healthcare Act rolling out late last year, now more than ever patients need to be vigilant when they enter into the healthcare system for any type of care.

Medical errors which include surgical errors, medication errors, diagnostic errors, incorrect use or failure of medical equipment during procedure or due to erroneous lab results can occur at any point in the medical pipeline. The best deterrent against preventable medical errors is being an active participant in one’s own care and seeing oneself as part of the medical health team. One way to lessen the chances suffering from prescription medication conflicts is to inform the doctor about every medication that one takes. This list should include prescriptions, supplements and any over the counter medication that one happens to take even if it is not on a regular basis. In order to ensure that one does not forget about any one medication it is advisable to bring all medication and supplements with to a doctor appointment.

Additionally, it may be helpful to put together and maintain an up-to-date list of allergies that one suffers from and share it with the healthcare provider. This can help them stave off potential complications that can arise from prescribing certain medications that may interact negatively with one’s existing allergies and potentially exacerbate a medical condition.

When it comes to hospital stays, it is important not to feel ashamed or feel shy of asking any health care worker who will have physical contact with you to wash their hands. It is well-documented that most infections can be stymied by proper hand hygiene, and healthcare professionals, just like everybody else, can be forgetful.

Playing an active role in one’s own care may not come naturally to many, but by being an involved patient and communicating with healthcare providers one may be able to reduce medical errors.

Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors,” Accessed Jan. 12, 2015