It is your North Carolina doctor’s responsibility to ensure that you receive the best medical care possible. However, there are many, many points in the process where a seemingly simple error could result in health trouble for you.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, you could be harmed by a mistake anywhere in the system, whether you go to a hospital, a clinic, a surgery center or a pharmacy, to name just a few. The complexity of the system and the number of people involved in a single patient’s care may also be a factor.

Fortunately, there are ways you can lower your chances of being a negative statistic on the medical error reports, and most of these involve communicating directly with every person involved in your care. You can also enlist the help of your primary care provider in coordinating your care, request copies of your medical records and have a friend or family member attend all your appointments with you.

Your doctor should listen carefully to your symptoms before determining what tests and treatment options to recommend. Keep in mind that you have the right to seek more information, whether that involves asking your doctor about alternative treatments, getting a second opinion or researching the latest scientific evidence.

When it comes to medication, make sure your doctor knows what you are currently taking, as well as drugs you may have had a problem with in the past. It may be helpful to bring along your medications to each visit, particularly if you see more than one kind of specialist. Your pharmacist may also assist you in ensuring that none of your prescriptions interact. When you pick up your medication and the pharmacist asks if you have any questions, this is a good time to make sure.

Before you undergo a procedure, you can help to prevent a surgical error by choosing a facility where that type of procedure is common. Also, confirm that your doctor and the surgeon have communicated about what procedure you are having, and that there is no chance of wrong-site surgery. In any setting, always verify that any person who comes in the room washes his or her hands.

This general information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical or legal advice.