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Medical facilities need to work hard to avoid errors

There are many medical facilities in Boston, Massachusetts, that do excellent work and have satisfied patients. Other medical facilities, however, can run into problems, including those that can lead directly to claims of medical malpractice. Those claims are often due to medical errors that could have been avoided. Medical facilities need to be extra careful about avoiding those.

One way to do so is to closely monitor vulnerable populations, defined as patients who, statistically speaking, are at particularly great risk. These patients include those who are isolated or otherwise have insufficient contact with healthcare professionals, and those who have English proficiency that is too limited to understand medical instructions.

With those sets of people, medical facilities can minimize the probability of errors by making sure to check in on at-risk patients often. They can also ensure that communications are conducted in the languages in which patients are fluent. That can be done by hiring multilingual staff members and by recruiting multilingual friends and family members of patients to ensure that communications are clear.

Another at-risk group is comprised of patients who find medical paperwork confusing or simply overwhelming. Patients who do not understand the paperwork that they are expected to fill out are unlikely to complete it correctly. Consequentially, their caregivers won't have the correct information about such important things as allergic reactions and current medications. To address that, medical facilities can improve their paperwork to make it all clear, and have staff members go over it with each patient to ensure understanding.

Medical facilities can also preclude errors in many instances by carefully and meticulously reviewing documentation in both its print and computer forms. New paperwork should be discussed during transitions between shifts, so there will be no ambiguity or misunderstandings between staff members. There should also be excellent and constant communication with pharmacists who are supplying the medications that the patients are taking.

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