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Protect Your Health and Life From Medical Mistakes

I warned you last week about how frequently medical errors occur, often because many doctors rely on preloaded cookie-cutter recipes for many health conditions and don't deviate from them. USA Today recently profiled a young Chicago woman who has experienced many of those very same and preventable medical mistakes first-hand.

Due to a rare, congenital heart condition, this patient makes a trip to the hospital, unfortunately, at least once a month. Based on those error-filled visits -- often involving improper testing or care or being given the wrong medication -- she wears a medical alert bracelet and takes a "resume" (describing her medical history and allergies) with her.

After repeated warnings to health care workers during a recent hospital visit about her allergic reaction to morphine, no surprise, the young patient received morphine anyway and probably saved her own life by questioning the nurse delivering it.

True, this is a rare case of a ridiculous number of medical errors experienced by one human being with a rare heart condition. That said, the odds of you or a loved one suffering from the mistakes of others in a hospital setting -- at least 34 percent according to a Harvard School of Public Health study -- are, unfortunately, better than good.

No wonder, human error is behind the spike in prescription-related deaths sold at a pharmacy near you at the beginning of each month and mortality rates fall when doctors go on strike.

That's why I urge you to begin taking better ownership of your health and avoiding the drug-addicted paradigm that passes for conventional medicine.

USA Today February 5, 2007