New York residents who need medical care may have heard about a study published in a medical journal that posits that medical error is one of the leading causes of death throughout the country. However, a patient can take precautions to help prevent those errors.

People can research their doctors. This can include making sure the doctor is board-certified and has a good academic and professional background. Surgeons should be experienced with the procedure they are doing. People should also not hesitate to discuss the reasons for their treatment plan with a doctor. Doctors should be able to back up their opinions with clinical data.

Patients should also not be hesitant about asking staff about any medications they are taking. This includes questioning the purpose of the medication and the dosage amount and refusing the medication until the physician can be contacted if the answers are not satisfactory. Patients should do the same for any tests ordered by a doctor. It is important to understand the risks and benefits, and patients can refuse the test if they feel it will not benefit their treatment plan.

Despite a patient’s vigilance, medical errors might still occur. There might be little a patient can do to combat errors such as a missed or wrong diagnosis. In some cases, a physician might be dismissive of a patient’s reported symptoms because the patient does not fit the profile for that particular condition. This can cause serious setbacks to a person’s health and may even be fatal in some cases. The family of a patient who has died due to a medical error might want to have legal help in pursuing compensation for their losses from the at-fault doctor or facility through a medical malpractice lawsuit.