Malpractice remains a serious problem in the medical community, but patients don't have sit to idly by and hope for the best. By taking an active role in your healthcare, you can drastically reduce your risk of becoming a victim of medical malpractice.
Understand Your Medications to Avoid Potential Errors or Complications
Medication errors are a common source of medical malpractice claims, with patients being given the wrong medication or an incorrect dose. You can reduce this risk by providing detailed information for your doctor, recording every prescription medication, dietary supplement, and over-the-counter medication you are currently taking. In fact, it's recommended that you bring the bottles with you to your appointment so your doctor can evaluate each one and look for potential negative interactions.
When you're prescribed a new medication, don't be afraid to ask questions. As a patient, it's vital you understand what your medicine is for, when and how to take it, and if there are any side effects that could indicate an adverse reaction. Ask your pharmacist to review your medications and interactions as a further safety measure.
If your doctor gives you a handwritten prescription, double check to make sure you can read the information. If you're having trouble reading your doctor's handwriting, your pharmacist might also struggle.
Research Your Healthcare Providers
Although it's true all doctors are required to attend medical school and complete certain minimal levels of training, this doesn't mean they're equally qualified to attend to your healthcare needs. If you must have surgery or are being treated for a serious medical condition, choose a facility with providers who have the expertise in the type of treatment you need.
Most facilities list a biography of each healthcare provider on their website, providing basic information such as where they graduated from medical school, where they completed their residency, and if they are board-certified in any specialty. This is a good place to begin your research into a doctor's background, but you'll also want to check your state's medical licensing board. You can search for a doctor using his name and location. Searching for your doctor's name in quotes, as well as phrases such as malpractice and lawsuit can also unearth potential problems, although you'll want to keep in mind that not all malpractice allegations are legally sound. A case that was dismissed due to lack of merit shouldn't be considered a black mark on an otherwise qualified doctor's record.
Bring a Trusted Friend or Family Member to Your Appointments
When you're sick or injured, it's hard to keep a level head. You might be so busy worrying about how your surgery will affect your responsibilities at work and at home that you forget to ask your doctor key information about your treatment plan. For this reason, it's a good idea to have someone you trust listening to the information you've been provided and helping make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the care you receive. Your friend or family member can also take notes for you to refer to at a later date.
If you're a parent of young children, try to arrange for appropriate childcare during your medical appointments. Children can become restless during long visits and attending to their needs may distract you from paying full attention to your medical care.
Provide a Complete and Thorough Medical History
Doctors rely upon accurate medical histories to provide proper care and diagnosis of a patient’s condition. By giving an inaccurate or incomplete medical history you increase the risk of a doctor misdiagnosing a person’s condition or providing the wrong medical care. Remember the doctor’s opinion and treatment are only as good as the beginning of the doctor-patient relationship and throughout the doctor’s care.
When providing the history, be complete, review the history with the doctor, make sure your symptoms and complaints have been properly noted in your chart and ask for a copy for your records. If you see an error correct it immediately so it doesn’t get perpetuated in the rest of your medical chart.
Protect Your Legal Rights
While there are several steps you can take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim of medical malpractice, sometimes errors in your care will happen despite your best efforts. If you believe that you've suffered emotional, physical, and/or monetary damage due to a healthcare provider's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.
Medical malpractice cases can be difficult to prove, since you must establish that your provider failed to follow accepted standards of care and that your injuries were the direct result of this negligence. Standards of care must be established by experts and medical witnesses. Inland Empire Law Group has extensive experience in helping patients with their malpractice claims, including those who've received treatment at the major hospitals of the Inland Empire. Call us today at 909-481-0100 or toll-free at 888-694-3529 for additional information or to schedule a consultation at our offices in either Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville.