Learn How to Avoid Medical Mistakes in New Book by Former Healthcare Executive and RN, Ellen Menard

Discover Why, Where & When Medical Mistakes Happen, How Care Teams Interact, & What Goes On Behind The Scenes In America's Hospitals, Surgery & Imaging Centers & What To Do About It!

Jun 08, 2010, 05:20 ET from Ellen Menard

WASHINGTON, June 8 /PRNewswire/ --  In this new original and eye-opening book, THE NOT SO PATIENT ADVOCATE: How To Get The Healthcare You Need Without Fear Or Frustration, readers walk through the seemingly forbidden or secretive door to the mystifying and occasionally infuriating maze that is today's healthcare machine. The author shares candid facts about what actually goes on where healthcare interaction occurs.

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Menard, a three-time neurosurgery patient, uses true stories to help readers prepare for what's ahead. She recommends asking a lot of questions before admission to a hospital, surgery center or nursing home.

Top 10 Tips To Avoid Medical Mistakes

  1. Ask if there is a high staff "turnover rate" in the unit in which you will stay. If it's higher than 10 percent, ask your physician if he or she is concerned with the care provided.
  2. Ask if the physician plans to get another doctor to "cover" their patients at any time during your hospitalization. If so, who is the "covering" physician?
  3. Ask which physician is available and is to be contacted if concerns arise about your care in the hospital.
  4. Pay close attention to your care during employee shift changes and room changes when information is exchanged about your care.
  5. Be especially cautious during "handoffs" when you are transferred from one hospital department/unit to another.  "Handoffs can be fatal," cautions Menard. "It's the most critical time when quality care diminishes and safety lapses occur."
  6. Read your own medical chart to ensure information is correct. Many mistakes are found in the history and physical section.
  7. Routinely check all scheduled tests, procedures, medications, blood types and products to ensure they are the right ones.
  8. Have someone you trust monitor your care at the hospital such as your partner, a family member or friend.
  9. Avoid elective surgery in July when new medical residents start and regular staff vacations are at a high point. 80 percent of medical mistakes happen in July.
  10. Find out your care plan for when you are discharged and ask what to do if you run into problems at home.

This practical guide discusses the do's and don'ts for positive, successful interactions with medical staff. The results of developing a partnership with your care team or a loved ones' care team will often be better, especially in terms of quality and safety.

Most medical mistakes are caused by human error and the root cause is often a communications issue. "Don't be afraid to ask to read your chart or your loved one's chart if you are their medical representative. Don't be afraid to call a doctor any time of day or night, weekend or holiday to speak to someone and get answers to your questions," Menard says.

She upends the notion that patients are passive and powerless consumers and encourages readers to show moxie. The book reviews best ways to deal with hospital staff, medical staff on the phone, and what to keep in mind at a diagnostic center, ER or hospital.

An award-winning corporate healthcare executive, hospital administrator and registered nurse, Ellen Menard, BSN, MBA, has spent over 30 years facilitating and creating optimal patient care. For more information, visit www.ellenmenard.com.

SOURCE Ellen Menard