When a misdiagnosis, medication error, or medical procedure is performed incorrectly causing injury, the patient suffers due to a mistake by a medical professional.
However, although the patient is not to blame, most victims of medical malpractice wish there was a way they could have prevented it from occurring. There are certainly some steps a patient can take to protect himself from being injured by some types of medical malpractice.
Understanding Medical Malpractice
To prevent something from occurring, you first need to understand what it is and how it occurs. Medical malpractice is defined as anything that causes injury to a patient by an act or omission of treatment that is deemed outside of the applicable standards of medical care that the patient should receive It is important to understand that not all medical treatments or procedures have the desired result, but that does not mean it constitutes medical malpractice. Errors and mistakes that cause harm which would not have occurred if performed by another medical professional may be medical malpractice. Examples include:
- Prescription or medication errors
- Surgical mistakes
- Misdiagnosis of an illness
- Unnecessary treatment or surgery
- Negligent care
- Procedures performed without consent
When these types of mistakes occur and cause injury to the patient, it is solely the fault of the physician or medical professional. While a medical malpractice lawsuit can be pursued to recover financial compensation, no amount of money can undo the pain, suffering, and loss that some patients endure due to medical mistakes. It may not be your duty to prevent medical malpractice, but there are precautions you can take to reduce your risk of injury when seeking medical care.
Research Your Illness or Procedure
Educating yourself on your medical condition is one of the best ways to understand the treatments and procedures that are available, as well as their outcomes. Some physicians are excellent at explaining to their patients the details about their medical condition and the pros and cons of different treatments, while others are not. Learn as much as you can to stay informed through your treatment. This preparation will help you ask the right questions and recognize when you may not be getting the best care possible.
Involve a Family Member
If you have a serious condition that will need ongoing treatments, it is best to have someone who you can count on to come with you to doctor visits and treatments. Another set of ears and eyes to listen to diagnosis and treatment information is helpful, especially if something does not seem right down the road. This precaution also gives you an informed person to monitor treatments when you are incapacitated, like during or after a surgical procedure.
Get Second Opinions
When it comes to your health, you want to take steps to be sure you are getting the best medical care. If your physician diagnoses you with a serious health condition, it is always best to get a second opinion before moving on with treatment. The same is true if you are given a clean bill of health, yet you still believe there is something wrong. Physicians make mistakes – misdiagnosis is a common reason for medical malpractice. A second opinion can prevent serious injuries that can occur when a patient undergoes treatment for the wrong illness or does not receive treatment at all.
Know Your Medications
It is important to understand what the medications you take do and the possible side effects. It is also vital to know the dosage you need and what your pills should look like. A common medical error occurs at pharmacies. The wrong drug or dosage can be given to patients that can be detrimental to their health. There are resources online that can show you what your prescribed pill should look like and if there are any medications that negatively interact with the drug. Take the time to read the literature about your medications and check every bottle to be sure the pills inside match what you were prescribed by your doctor. If you have any concerns, ask your doctor or pharmacist. When reviewing your medical history and list of medications with your doctor or his nurse, be absolutely honest about the answer to every question. Take your medications (prescription, over-the-counter, herbal supplements, and vitamins ) with you in the bottles in which you received them from the pharmacy to be sure the doctor has access to complete, correct information regarding each medication and dosage.
Go to Your Own Doctor Whenever Possible
When you have the flu or just feel under the weather, try to see your primary care physician whenever possible instead of going to the ER or an urgent care facility. Emergency rooms are notoriously understaffed and many of the doctors and nurses work long, consecutive shifts. If you need emergency care, do go the ER, but if you are not experiencing a medical emergency and can wait to see your own doctor during regular clinic hours, you will likely get better care with less room for error.
Are You the Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you have already been injured or have lost a loved one because of what you believe to be medical malpractice, please contact our team at Nelson & Hammons for an initial telephone consultation. The only people who can prevent medical malpractice are doctors and other health care providers – it is not your fault if they did not perform their duties and harmed you or a loved one in the process.