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If You Experience a Medical Error
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If you feel that you or a loved one has experienced an error during care, it is important to speak up and report it. Your health care providers may be unaware of your concern and or may best be able to address your situation.


Reporting errors very important for health care providers as well as patients and families. Without reports, health care providers will not know that they need to address a problem so it does not happen to someone else.


Many patients and family members may hesitate to report and talk about their concerns in fear that they will be thought of as “difficult” patients. But the best health care systems welcome and thank patients and family members who ask questions and report safety issues. By listening to patients, they can be made aware of an unsafe situation, minimize the risk to others, and ensure that the situation is addressed.


Who Should You Report the Error To?

Begin with the care provider who is responsible for your care of another member of your health care team. In the hospital setting, ask to speak to the unit nurse manager, your attending physician, or a patient advocate. Most hospitals employ advocates to help resolve conflicts or help patients through problems.


If you do not receive a response or are not satisfied with the response, ask to speak to the chief chief patient safety officer, the chief medical officer, the chief nursing officer, or the chief executive of the facility.


In a physician's office setting, ask to speak to your physician or the practice manager. Some physician practices belong to large groups and may have a patient relations liaison.


Under federal law, patients have a right “to be informed of the hospital’s internal grievance (“complaint”) process, including whom to contact to file a grievance.” If you do not have this information, we encourage you to ask anyone on the medical staff or in administration to direct you.


If you experience a medication error or a serious side effect from a drug or medical device, you can report it directly to the Food and Drug Administration, a federal agency with oversight for medical projects. Visit the MedWatch Online Voluntary Reporting section of the FDA site.


To Make a Formal Complaint

If you choose to go beyond the hospital or practice where the care took place, you may take one or all of the following actions, depending upon the nature of the complaint:

Help for Patients and Families

NPSF works closely with several agencies that provide direct service to patients and families who have experienced medical errors.


PULSE of New York works directly with victims of medical errors and also conducts patient advocacy training. You can read more information about PULSE of NY here


Medically Induced Trauma Support Services (MITSS) provides counseling and services to patients and families. Visit



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