Preventable medical malpractice, which are caused when a healthcare provider fails to act as reasonable careful healthcare provider in the same or similar circumstances. For instance a healthcare provide selects an improper treatment for your condition. Another example is a healthcare provider misdiagnosed your condition. Another example is failing to do proper studies. The list can go on and on. It is conservatively estimated that 1.5 million people are injured every year because of medical malpractice and it costs $19.5 billion in additional treatment. In addition, errors related to medications harm 1.5 million people a year and cost another $3.5 billion to treat.
So what can you do to reduce the chances that you will be the victim of such an error?
The most important thing you can do is to talk with your doctor and to take a proactive role in your own health care. A good idea is to write questions down, so you can ask them when you see your healthcare professional. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor how familiar he or she is with the treatment or surgery recommended or the medicine prescribed.
If medications are prescribed make sure you are given specific instructions how often and whether with or without food or water, and what the possible side effects are. Also be sure to take all your medication if so ordered and if you seem to be having adverse effects call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
Be sure you provide the doctor with a list of all your symptoms, whether you believe they are related to the reason for your visit or not. Let your doctor know everything you are taking including, other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements herbal or otherwise and even illegal drugs. Doctors need to have all of this information to determine what is the best course of treatment for you.
Do not be afraid to discuss matters candidly with your doctor. After all it is your health and life. For example, if your doctor writes out a prescription, make sure you can read it. We have all heard the jokes about doctors’ bad handwriting, but it is not funny when you get the wrong medication. Remember, if you cannot read the prescription what makes you think the pharmacist can. There are many medications that have similar sounding names or spells that are very different, likewise dosage is very important. Do not be shy.
Before you leave your healthcare provider be sure to review the treatment plan and make sure you understand. Studies show that doctors tend to assume that patients understand a lot more of what they have been told than they actually do. Do not be embarrassed make sure you understand what is proposed and what the plan of treatment is.
Do not be docile in your medical care. Be active in coordinating your health care. Put someone (usually your family physician or primary care physician) in charge of your overall care. This is especially important if you have multiple health-care issues, which may affect one another in ways that are not fully understood.
If more than one provider is involved, make sure that they all have the same understanding of your treatment plan and request that they forward medical records to one another. If surgery is involved, it is very important that your doctor and your surgeon are “on the same page” about your condition and the procedure to be performed.
Lastly, doctor or hospital visits for serious or potentially serious conditions can be very stressful. Writing down questions and a “punch list” is a good idea. If you are overly nervous asking a family member or trusted friend to be there with you to assist is good idea.
The truth is that most of the time doctors, nurses, and pharmacists provide excellent medical care and indeed want to. However, all humans make mistakes.
The tips I have given you can help you avoid being a victim of medical malpractice.
Remember the proverb “Measure twice, and cut once.”