According to medical statistics more than 98,000 Americans die every year because of medical errors. How can you ensure you don’t become a victim? The following list details three surefire ways to reduce your risk of being subjected to medical malpractice:
Rule #1: Check and Double Check Your Medical Information
Inaccurate information is the number one cause of medical malpractice. Errors are made when the data is wrong. That means making sure your doctor knows your specific information from start to finish. No exceptions. No hiding that small thing you don’t like talking about. Make sure your information is correct!
Once you have the correct information, make sure every single stop on the way through the hospital, from the intake to the operating room, gets that same correct information! Never assume they know your situation. Make it your “SOP”, standard operating procedure, to let every doctor know your particular information. That would include knowing all your medications, supplements, dietary issues, allergies, every important factor that makes treating you unique.
A doctor cannot make an effective medical diagnosis or provide you proper treatment if the information they rely on is wrong! You can protect yourself from the biggest cause of medical errors if you accurately share that information with your doctor. To make matters even better, go over and review your medical chart. What is in your chart isn’t a national secret! Make sure the chart has no inaccurate bits of information. Also, ask all the questions you can think of – even if they feel silly – no question is a dumb question when it comes to your health! Ask about side effects, negative prior incidents with regard to the procedure and even about other optional treatments. Anything that comes to mind, just ask!
Rule #2: Hire Experts
By being active in your medical care you will greatly help reduce the risk of a medical error. However, you can take another step: Get input and assistance from a trusted medical expert.
As attorneys, we depend on having the best experts at our side that can help answer questions and provide us with professional information. The person you choose should be a doctor you trust. Designate that doctor to be your main point person who will help direct your medical care. Talk about it directly and make sure the doctor understands his or her responsibility as your “hired gun.” They must watch over you and make sure everyone involved is on the same page and has all the information needed. Make that person your advisor and consult with them at every stage of the medical process.
Then, get a trusted non-medical advisor on board as well. There are often times when you won’t be able to make the best decisions. Make sure you designate a trusted family member or a close friend as your “healthcare surrogate.” That means they will be your advocate if there comes a time when you can’t make a reasonable healthcare decision on your own. Once you appoint this person you must keep them informed (See RuleNo. 1 above). This person must be included in everything and know exactly what is going on so they can make the best decision for you.
Rule #3: Arm Yourself with Information!
The amount of information that is available online is staggering. It is also completely empowering. You can Google anything and have detailed and well-written authoritative information in your hands in seconds.
Of course, this is never a substitute for speaking with your medical practitioner. Pay attention to your doctor and ask questions… and then get online and do some solid research that can help you make the best decision and avoid a medical mistake. Keep in mind you are not a doctor and will need to ask a lot of questions. If your doctor can’t answer those questions, it would be wise to find someone who can.
Our website has medical videos with information about different neurological and orthopedic injuries, and the following websites are also good resources for supplementing the information you receive from your medical professional:
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by digitalart
Brian F. LaBovick, Esq. is the founder and managing shareholder of LaBovick Law Group, a boutique trial law firm focusing on injury cases throughout the state of Florida. Mr. LaBovick is dedicated to helping victims and protecting their rights within our legal system. He is an award-winning and AV-rated attorney.