Patient safety is one of the most pressing health care challenges. Unintended medical errors are the leading cause of deaths all over the world.

The frequency and magnitude of avoidable adverse patient events was not well known until the 1990s, when multiple countries reported staggering numbers of patients harmed and killed by medical errors. Recognizing that healthcare errors impact 1 in every 10 patients around the world, the World Health Organization calls patient safety an endemic concern.

For Patient Safety Initiatives to be successful, they must cover all parties in the healthcare ecosystem.

There are things you can do to help yourself get safer health care. Some are as simple as making sure that when you are in the hospital your wristband has the right name on it.

Other ways to reduce risks are:

  • Ask questions if you have doubts or concerns. Take a relative or friend to help you ask questions and understand answers
  • Make sure you understand what will happen if you need surgery
  • Tell your health care providers about all the medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements, and any allergies or bad reactions to anesthesia. Make sure you know how to take your medications correctly.
  • Get a second opinion about treatment options
  • Keep a copy of your own health history