Mistakes happen in every aspect of life. Medical care and treatment are not immune.
In 2015 US News and World Report identified 5 common preventable medical mistakes which are causing up to 200,000 deaths each year. These include: Medication Errors, Too Many Blood Infusions, and Health Care related infections.
Indeed medical mistakes are on the rise. The Affordable Care Act gave significant incentives to have providers move to Electronic Health Records. Ironically, this has led to an increase in mistakes. A wrong box is checked, the spelling is off, and a whole slew of consequences ensue for the patient – with no wrongdoing intended. Mistakes happen.
Sometimes mistakes are the result of systemic realities and may not be even called “mistakes; ” but rather “falling through the cracks.” One such example was written up in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Doctor faced a dilemma: the patient’s chief complaint (constipation) was treatable with medicine. However, several minutes into the 15 minutes allotted by the management for the appointment, a deeper problem came to light. After a bit of communication with the patient, the doctor realized that the issue was not solely medical but had roots in a Behavioral or Psychological problem. Having come to that realization the doctor also was cognizant that to discuss the issue and a referral to a specialist would have taken more than the time allotted. The dilemma therefore was to treat the chief complaint, or treat the patient and what caused the chief complaint. Which do you think the doctor chose?
Had the patient had a private health advocate the doctor may have been able to do both. The medication could have been prescribed, the issue raised with the advocate able to spend the time helping the patient process it and explore the possibility of seeing a specialist.
In many of the cases of medication errors, an emotionally detached non-judgmental private advocate might be an asset to the patient, doctor and hospital who might see and perhaps catch mistakes before damage is done. They might review a chart or Electronic Health Record and notice mistakes or “typos” that can significantly impact treatment choices and can be pointed out and corrected.
No doubt you or a loved one will be a patient at some point. In a world where mistakes happen, you can have a Private Health Advocate on your side, or you can go it alone. By hiring a private health advocate, you Hedge Lucky.