Tips for Safer Medical Care

Errors in medical care can occur anywhere—in hospitals, rehab clinics, clinics, pharmacies or at home. Anyone can make a mistake. But, when it involves medical care, a mistake can be costly or even fatal. Here are a few examples.


Getting a new prescription involves several people: your doctor, a nurse, pharmacy technician, pharmacist, etc. As the prescription changes hands, it’s easy to have a mix up in dosage or directions. Patient allergies add another level of complexity. Here are some tips to help prevent errors in medicines:

  1. Make sure your doctors and pharmacists know about all medicines and supplements that you take. It’s a good practice to bring medicines to your appointment to update your records correctly.
  2. Ensure that your doctors and pharmacists know about any allergies or adverse reactions you’ve previously experienced with medications.
  3. Ask the doctor and the pharmacist to explain how to take your medicines in terms that you can understand. This helps ensure that the information is translated and interpreted correctly.
  4. Request side effects in writing. Review these before starting the medications to ensure that you recognize potential problems.


Surgeons typically outline expectations before a surgery. However, operations don’t always go as planned. Because you’ll be under the influence of drugs, have someone available to talk to your doctor following the surgery. I recall that the surgeon completely changed shoulder rehab for one of my Patient Scrubs® clients. If his wife hadn’t been there to alert the therapist who didn’t read the unusual restrictions, there was a good chance that he would have required a second surgery. Here are some things to ask.

  1. Ensure that everyone agrees on the surgery that is to be done (correct surgery, side of body, limb, etc.)
  2. Ask nurses and therapists what restrictions are noted on your chart.
  3. Ask healthcare workers if they have washed their hands if you don’t see them wash them.
  4. Request a full explanation of your treatment plan upon discharge.
  5. Prepare for anticipated restrictions in advance. Food, clothing, transportation, exercise devices, etc. can be readily available. Patient Scrubs® are ideal garments for rehab and dressing limitations.

Either you or your family/friend with you should speak up if you have questions or concerns. It’s your right to understand. It’s your body that you are trying to care for.

From the Patient Scrubs® lady to you, I wish you a speedy recovery to full health!


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