Horror stories abound when it comes to surgery gone awry. Even with the countless life-saving surgeries being done daily, it is the ones that do not go right that get our attention. It’s not hard to understand why. A person enters a hospital hoping to get better, not worse.
According to Lowenthal & Abrams, a Philadelphia Med Mal Lawyer, “Statistics show that between 210,000 and 440,000 people die each year due to preventable mistakes in hospitals. These numbers do not count the errors made in doctors’ offices, by radiologists, at out-patient clinics and so on.”
But despite statistics like these, every now and then a trip to the doctor’s office can’t be avoided. So what can a patient do to lessen the likelihood of experiencing medical negligence? Read on!
- Bring a family member or friend with you
If possible, bring a family member along who will advocate for you and be a second set of ears and eyes, helping to retain and ask questions. Family members are also great for emotional support. But not only that, they can alert other hospital staff if something seems off with the attending doctor or other personnel.
- Ask questions and be proactive
Many doctors see a large number of patients daily. The chances that that might miss something are there. Asking questions is a way to make sure everyone involved in your care is on the same page.
Be proactive by studying up on your condition. WebMD calls it being your own health advocate. Doing this will also help you know what questions to ask, what to look for in regards to improvement or degeneration, etc. And it does not hurt to keep your health care staff on their toes and aware that you will not be a passive bystander in your recovery.
- Document everything
Take pictures, keep payment stubs, record conversations when needed and allowed. OK, yes. You may be considered a nuisance by doing these things. But it’s basic psychology that people behave their best when they feel they are being observed and recorded.
- Do not be intimidated
Doctors and nurses and medical staff can be an intimidating bunch to deal with. And it can be easy to feel that one must bow to their years of specialized training that brought them to where they are now. But the truth is, mistakes happen. Take, for instance, the case of a Tampa, FL, man who had the wrong leg amputated. Doctors and other health care providers are fallible. In cases like these, it pays to not be intimidated. If you are concerned about something, state your concerns. Stand up for yourself, or get a family member to do that for you.
- Get a second opinion
Two common medical malpractice suits are for the following…
- Failure to correctly diagnose during an exam. This happens more often than it should. And is the basis for many medical malpractice claims. If a doctor claims nothing is amiss, but you still feel something is wrong, trust your body. You know how your body feels, and if something feels off, you should keep searching for answers.
- Failure to warn of risks regarding a certain course of action. Because these problems are common, you should always be open to getting a second opinion on a course of treatment you are considering. Or a procedure that is being recommended to you. While doctors are required to warn patients of known risks, do not leave that knowledge up to chance. If there are risks, you should know about them thoroughly so you can make an informed decision.
The above pointers are not fail proof. But they do provide an additional level of protection against unintentional errors. Put your mind at ease by doing your part to make it difficult for mistakes to be made regarding your care.