Healthcare News & Insights

Medical mistakes worry consumers, but they have faith in technology

A new study shows that 73% of consumers are worried about doctors and hospitals making medical mistakes, and 45% of them are “very concerned.” They have good reason to be.

Consumers know how busy doctors and hospitals are, and how they’re pushed  by insurance companies to treat patients as efficiently and effectively as possible.

But that’s not the sole reason for the unease. Experience plays a big part, too.

A decent portion (30%) of people have experienced a medical mistake of some kind — wrong medication, dosage or treatment — and 21% have been misdiagnosed by their doctor, according to a new Wolters Kluwer Health survey.

What’s to blame?

Of the 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older surveyed, 35% blame the errors on miscommunication among hospital staff. Here’s what else they attribute them to:

  • doctors and/or nurses being in a hurry (26%)
  • doctors and/or nurses being fatigued (14%)
  • staffing shortages in hospitals (12%)
  • hospital staff not knowing how to use technology (4%), and
  • 10% were unsure.

Taking matters into their own hands

Consumers, however, aren’t putting the entire responsibility of preventing medical mistakes in your hands. Many are taking action on their own.

Here’s what they’ve done to protect themselves:

  • 66% of the respondents said they’ve done some research on their own to validate a diagnosis and/or treatment plan
  • 56% said they’ve gotten a second opinion on a diagnosis and/or treatment plan
  • 36% have written down instructions for the doctor or nurse
  • 19% have delayed a procedure for a day when the doctor may be more focused or rested — not scheduling on the weekends or late in the week, and
  • 18% have asked a doctor or nurse to wash their hands.

Confidence in technology

While knowing how to use technology makes a small percentage of the survey respondents nervous about medical errors, the majority (68%) believe technology has had a positive impact on reducing errors. And they believe as hospitals and physician practices continue to adopt new technologies, medical errors will continue to decrease.

So use this to your advantage.

Promote any new technology you’ve adopted on your website, and wherever else you can.

Get the word out to your community that not only does your facility and its healthcare professionals invest in technology to give the best possible care, but it also provides extensive training to its employees.

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