When a hospital fails to provide proper health care treatment and the patient is harmed, that patient may start a medical malpractice lawsuit in order to obtain compensation. However, a great number of errors are preventable errors and unfortunately a lot of people die each year due to these errors. Not only can medical professionals and hospitals reduce the number of errors made, but patients can as well.
Recent studies have shown that the occurrence of medical errors is a more complex and bigger problem than previously thought. A recent study regarding Medicare patients has suggested an estimated 86 percent of harms done to patients were not reported by hospital staff. If these harms are not reported they cannot be corrected. Another study showed that serious or long-term injuries or death were suffered by one in seven patients due to hospital care. About 44 percent of these injuries or deaths were preventable.
To increase the likelihood that you or a loved one will not become a victim of medical malpractice you should play an active role in your medical care. You could also some of these tips to protect yourself and loved ones from hospital errors.
- Ask questions and request clarification is you do not understand the answer.
- Carry a notebook to keep track of all medications (both prescription and non-prescription). Also keep track of why you take the medications and who prescribed them to you. Include contact information of the doctor who prescribed them if possible.
- Make sure you can read the prescription your doctor writes for you and that you are aware of what it is. There is a possibility that if you cannot read it neither can the pharmacist.
- Keep your doctor informed of allergies and adverse reactions to medications.
- Particularly during check-in or discharge it is important to have an advocate, such as a family member or friend (though some hospitals have an advocate or staff person that can be consulted).
- Prior to seeking a specialist ask your doctor for referrals.
- Prior to surgery make sure that you, your doctor, and the surgeon are all in agreement about what is going to happen. (For example, make sure that if you are having surgery on your right leg that everyone knows that it is the right leg that is being operated on.)
- If a test is performed and no response is given make sure to follow up. Just because the doctor does not contact you does not mean that it is good news.
- Do not rely completely on the internet to determine what is wrong (even if you visit a reliable web site). It is important that you still consult your doctor.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.