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Tips for Preventing Medical Mistakes

Medical mistakes are a common topic in the news—from accidental drug overdoses to hospital acquired infections to surgical mistakes. These mistakes cost millions each year and, in the worst cases, cause major illness, disability, or death. The government and medical institutions are taking many steps to decrease the rates of medical errors, but you have an important role as well. Taking an active role in your healthcare can help prevent medical errors. The following is a list of recommendations to help you stay well:

Outside the Hospital

In the Hospital


Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

National Patient Safety Foundation


Canadian Patient Safety Institute

Health Canada


20 tips to prevent medical errors: Patient fact sheet. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website. Available at: http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/care-planning/errors/20tips/index.html. Updated December 2014. Accessed February 25, 2016.

Medical errors: Tips to help prevent them. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/self-care/medical-errors-tips-to-help-prevent-them.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed February 25, 2016.

Patient safety. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00684. Updated December 2013. Accessed February 25, 2016.

The meaning of Magnet. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/nursing/about/magnet.html. Accessed February 25, 2016.

Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 2/25/2016