Safety First Resource January 12, 2017.

According to the National Health Institute, healthcare in the United States is not as safe as it should be. Two major studies, including "To Err Is Human: Building A Safer Health System," Institute of Medicine, November 1999, found that at least 44,000 people, and perhaps as many as 98,000 people, die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors that could have been prevented. Other research suggests that the number may be far higher, with preventable errors and negligence taking the lives of 195,000 people each year. (See "Patient Safety in American Hospitals,", July 2004.

A little knowledge about your healthcare provider can go a long way in reducing your risk of becoming a victim of medical malpractice. The following websites may help.

Choosing Your Healthcare Provider

Your Guide to Choosing Quality Health Care – This guide is based on research about the information people want and need when choosing health plans, doctors, treatments, hospitals, and long-term care.

State Medical Board of Ohio – Use the "for consumers" tab to research your doctor and learn about his/her education, licensure, board disciplinary actions, and more.

American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) – This not-for-profit organization comprises 24 medical specialty boards and is the pre-eminent entity that oversees physician certification in the United States. ABMS’ mission has been to maintain and improve the quality of medical care by assisting its Member Boards in developing and implementing educational and professional standards to evaluate and certify physician specialists. ABMS is recognized by the key healthcare accreditation organizations as a primary equivalent source of board certification data on medical specialists for credentialing purposes.

Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) – Established more than 50 years ago, this independent, not-for-profit organization is governed by a board that includes physicians, nurses, and consumers and evaluates the quality and safety of care for more than 15,000 health care organizations.

Health Grades – This independent healthcare ratings organization provides ratings and profiles of hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians.

Reduce Your Risk of Medical Mistakes

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors – Medical errors are one of the nation’s leading causes of death and injury. A 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine estimated that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. This means that more people die from medical errors than from motor vehicle accidents or breast cancer. Government agencies, purchasers of group healthcare, and healthcare providers are working together to make the U.S. health care system safer for patients and the public.

20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors in Children – Rates of medication errors and adverse drug events for hospitalized children were comparable to rates for hospitalized adults in a 2001 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. However, the rate for potential adverse drug events was three times higher in children, and substantially higher still for babies in neonatal intensive care units. Studies of medical errors outside the hospital are just getting underway.

Quick Tips – When Talking with Your Doctor – Research has shown that patients who have good relationships with their doctors tend to be more satisfied with their care. Here are some tips to help you and your doctor become partners in improving your healthcare.

Your Medicine: Play It Safe – Learn more about how to take medicines safely by reading this guide. It answers common questions about getting and taking medicines and includes many forms to help you keep track of information. Keep this guide with your medicines in case you have any questions, concerns, or worries. It was developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE).

Resources for surgical safety

Partner with Physician for Best Surgical Outcome – AAOS

Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before You Have Surgery – AHRQ

When Your Child Needs Anesthesia – ASA

Resources for Safe Medication Use

Food & Drug Interactions (PDF File)- NCL

Preventing Medicine Mishaps – CHIC

Online Medical Dictionaries

Mayo Clinic

National Institutes of Health – MedLine Plus


PDR Health – A wide range of e-solutions, publications, drug databases, and communications vehicles to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers, and managed-care organizations.

Pocket Guide to Good Health for Children

Pocket Guide to Good Health for Adults

healthfinder® – Provides a gateway to reliable consumer health information from the Federal Government and other organizations.