Take Charge of Your Hospital Stay to Avoid Medical Mistakes

Dr. Marie Savard shares tips for a safe hospital stay.

ByABC News
June 3, 2010, 4:33 PM

June 3, 2010— -- Studies show that 98,000 people die in hospitals every year because of medical errors.

That's a staggering statistic, but there's ways to make sure those medical mistakes don't happen to you.

Dr. Marie Savard, "Good Morning America" medical contributor, has 5 insider tips that could save your life on your next hospital stay.

Have a copy of your medical records when you visit the hospital. Savard says she has a three-ring binder of medical information for herself and her parents.

Inside your binder make sure you have a "Health at a Glance" form which should include these 3 important things: • Any medications you are on • Any medical conditions or previous procedures you have had • Contact information your emergency contact or "health buddy"

Eighty percent of a doctor's diagnosis comes from the information from medical records, so it's crucial that doctors have that information, Savard said.

Click HERE to download the materials for your three-ring binder.

Have another set of eyes and ears at the hospital. The presence of a "health buddy" can be vital, Savard said.

People who are staying in the hospital will be sick and vulnerable, and they will need someone to be their eyes and ears during their stay. The health buddy should take notes and pay attention to doctors' and nurses' instructions, and should watch to ensure that nothing goes wrong.

Savard says that many things can go wrong in a hospital. For example, the wrong medication can be administered or the wrong test can be scheduled.

They can help to prevent the wrong medication, the wrong test and incorrect procedures. Such vigilance cannot be accomplished by a single person. Savard said the health buddy should have a backup.