More than 250,000 people die each year because of errors that have taken place in hospitals and health care facilities. The reasons for medical malpractice vary, but the most common include diagnosis errors; surgical errors; sedation mistakes, medication errors; and childbirth injuries.
What’s going on here? Physicians and health care workers face numerous challenges, and like other workers, they can make mistakes. But that’s not reassuring to know, especially if you’ve been in a serious accident and need treatment; face life-threatening surgery; or had an allergic reaction to medication.
It’s important to trust your doctors and nurses, but it’s also important to listen to your body and trust yourself. If a doctor’s initial diagnosis doesn’t jibe with what you believe, speak up. Be your own best advocate. If you’re coughing up blood, that’s not a sign of acid reflux. Something more serious may be taking place.
Standing up for yourself
If you are facing a serious medical situation, here are some steps you can take that will not only enlighten you on your condition, but also potentially prevent you from being involved in a medical malpractice situation. The list includes:
- Learn about your medical condition. Do as much research on it as possible to understand what you and your family face. What are the symptoms? What are the causes? Why do you need surgery or a certain procedure? How will this help?
- Have a family member accompany you on important appointments with physicians. You may not always be thinking clearly if you face a major surgery, so bring along a trusted person. It wouldn’t hurt to take notes, either.
- Consider getting a second opinion, especially if you are working with a physician who hasn’t earned your confidence. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore found that 20 percent of second opinions are different from the first.
Working with health care providers and getting medical treatment should not be like rolling the dice and wondering how lucky you will get. Your life may be at stake. But if something bad happens due to a surgeon’s complacency, you should pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.