Even if they are at the top of their fields, doctors aren’t perfect. They can make mistakes, which sometimes lead to complications for their patients.
But if a medical error happens to you, should you report it? According to a National Patient Safety Foundation and Healthcare Improvement survey, 31% of patients said no one reported the error that occurred to them. Most respondents (56%) who chose not to report said they didn’t think their report would help, while 40% said they didn’t know how to report the error.
What does reporting a medical error do?
Contrary to the belief that reporting medical errors will not help in any way, reporting is a fundamental step toward error prevention. An Institute of Medicine report noted that reporting medical errors allows healthcare providers to be held responsible for their performance and provide any information that could improve medical procedure safety.
If a medical error was minor and non-fatal, should you still report it?
No matter how small a medical error may be, it is still an error. Reporting will allow healthcare professionals to enact or revise policies and procedures to avoid similar mishaps in the future.
When a medical error occurs during a patient’s treatment, the healthcare provider must report the mistake to the patient. But the NPSF survey found that nearly half of the surveyed patients who reported experiencing a medical error indicated that they brought the error to the attention of healthcare staff. If left untreated, medical errors can lead to further health complications and could cost you even more if you keep it to yourself. If you feel something is wrong with how a healthcare provider performed a particular procedure, consider reporting it to the attending staff.