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Can you take measures before surgery to prevent mistakes?

We’ve discussed previously in this blog about the numbers of patients, in New York as well as across the country, who are adversely affected by medical mistakes. In addition to surgical mishaps, medication errors and other common mistakes, infection is another widespread problem in hospitals. You are particularly vulnerable to getting an infection after a surgical procedure, since your body will be exposed to germs and your immune system compromised during the healing process.

According to Consumer Reports, there are several steps you can take before surgery that may reduce your chances of contracting an infection or suffering from a medical error. These tips include the following:

  • Before surgery, talk with your doctor about what will happen during the procedure and how to take care of yourself during recovery.
  • Understand the medications you will need to take, including pain medications, and be sure to take them on time.
  • Enlist the help of a family member or friend who is willing to take care of some of your responsibilities while you are healing.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask each member of your medical team if they are adhering to safety and hygiene standards, such as washing their hands before checking your incision and keeping accurate notes on your condition.
  • Consider banking your own blood before your surgery if you are worried about infected blood in case you need a transfusion.
  • Write a living will before your procedure, which would let your medical staff and loved ones know the steps to take if there is an emergency that is temporarily or permanently incapacitating.

Understanding the risks that you face, in addition to your pre- and post-operative care, can give you peace of mind knowing you are as informed as possible. Being prepared and knowledgeable about your procedure may also let you assist your medical team in preventing mistakes.

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