Although medical doctors have many years of education and practice, they are still just human—and all humans make mistakes. After one such mistake proved fatal for a relative, Joe Graedon, M.S., and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., went to work trying to get hospitals to institute better safety measures.
In their book Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them, the Graedons discuss potentially fatal medical errors that occur in hospitals, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and elsewhere. The book includes ways that patients can be on the alert to make sure nothing happens to them—including what questions they should ask, how to ensure they’re getting the right medications, and so on. The authors also note that having a friend or family member come with you to the doctor to act as a note-taker and an advocate is always a good idea.
The Graedons have been involved with patient advocacy for more than 25 years, and this book is the culmination of their long experience. However, even though the statistics they quote are scary, there’s no reason to panic. The authors are quick to point out that if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment, you should speak to your doctor first. The book isn’t about making people distrust doctors; it’s about making sure patients are armed with the knowledge they need to significantly reduce the chance of mistakes. Remember: Although you need to be careful and alert, you should still trust the medical professionals who treat you.
In addition to their own experience, the Graedons consulted Dr. Peter Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., who created a five-step checklist to increase safety at hospitals. For more on Dr. Pronovost’s work, check out his profile in the Post.
Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them is an easy-to-read book with an important message. As the Graedons point out, taking charge of your health and safety by asking questions and making sure you know what’s going on is one of the best way to reduce potential mistakes. If you or a relative is often in and out of the hospital or has a revolving carousel of medications, you should read the Graedons’ book. Forewarned is forearmed, and having this knowledge could stop a potentially fatal error.
Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them will be available from Crown Archetype on October 4, 2011, at a list price of $26.