There’s no doubt that America’s health care system is among the world’s best. Unfortunately, the average American stands a one in three hundred chance of dying due to medical malpractice. In fact, more than 100, 000 Americans die each year due to medical errors.
A U.S government report estimates that 10 percent of physicians need discipline ranging from loss of license to supervision. Most incidences of medical malpractice occur outside the control of the patient. In most cases, when patients learn they are victims of medical malpractice, it takes them completely by surprise. But not all medical negligence cases come as a complete surprise. Some of our Hyannis medical malpractice clients recall having a “bad feeling” and had they followed their instincts, perhaps they would have avoided the situation.
Although it’s hard to predict malpractice, we have a few tips that will help you protect yourself from it and obtain the best medical care.
How to Protect Yourself from Medical Malpractice
Make Sure Your Doctor Practices Evidence Based Medicine
When your doctor recommends a course of treatment, you expect it to work because there are research studies that prove it does. This is a huge misconception because clinical practice of medicine is not based on empirical data but on assumptions and guesswork.
There are certain guidelines that doctors are supposed to follow when making decisions about what kind of treatment to pursue. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services has a set of guidelines that doctors should refer to but many of them ignore them. They often think that despite the lack of scientific evidence, a given course of treatment will benefit you.
The New England Journal of Medicine conducted a study in 2003 and found that doctors followed the guidelines only 54% of the time. There’s even evidence that suggests doctors rarely follow guidelines in certain areas like spinal and heart surgery.
Avoid Being an Experiment
In order for a drug or medical device to be released into the market, it doesn’t need to undergo long term studies but it will be subjected to short-term clinical trials. Sounds re-assuring but the FDA doesn’t require new drugs or medical devices to undergo clinical trials at all before releasing it into the market.
Billions of dollars are funneled into marketing a new drug so it’s inevitable that it will be hyped as the new cure. The US Food and Drug Administration approves 25 new drugs for prescription use every year. Out of those 25 new drugs, a significant number of them will be removed from the market.
So if your doctor recommends a new drug that’s just been released into the market, you should discuss with him about using drugs and therapies that have a long successful track record instead. Let someone else be the guinea pig.
Visit the Doctor with a Friend or a Spouse
Having a friend or a spouse with you can help prevent a few things like ambiguities or misinterpretations of what the doctor is saying. Your friend could also ask helpful questions that you might not have otherwise thought of. The doctor’s visit is always short so bringing along a friend helps to add a couple of extra minutes by asking more questions to clarify your condition and the course of treatment recommended.
Seek a Second Opinion
You might think that seeking for a second opinion is only for people with life threatening conditions like cancer. This is not true because you can get a second opinion for conditions that significantly affect your quality of life like asthma, back injury, etc. A second opinion can help you:
- Compare outcomes of treatment. Getting a second opinion ensures that you have been diagnosed properly and that you will receive effective treatment. It may also eliminate the need for invasive procedures or surgery.
- Confirm that the recommended treatment is appropriate. A second opinion gives you the chance to find out if your treatment plan will give you the desired results, if it’s complete, correct and if the treatment alternatives have been discussed.
- Confirm that your diagnosis is correct. We’ve all heard stories about people who were wrongly diagnosed with a disease and ended up spending thousands of dollars treating the wrong condition. A second opinion will at least give you re-assurance that your diagnosis is correct or if there are any other diagnoses that should be considered.
- Become more educated. Second opinions equip you with more knowledge of your condition and your options. This way, you’ll be in a better position to make more informed decisions.
You might hesitate to seek a second opinion because you think it might offend your current doctor. They should not be offended doctors know that diagnoses can affect patients in so many different ways. Some doctors will even consult their fellow doctors for an opinion on their cases, especially when one of them has experience with a similar case.
Have a Copy of Your Medical Records
This is especially important if you plan to switch doctors because your previous one retired, transferred to another state or for whatever reason. In between switching doctors, you might wind up with an incomplete medical history.
The health care facility you choose to go to will not have a complete history of your medical records so it might make it a little difficult to establish an accurate baseline for your health.
You can obtain a copy of your medical requests by simply writing a request to your doctor. According to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, you can obtain an entire copy of your medical records as long as you agree to pay copying expenses.
What if You are Already a Victim of Medical Malpractice in Hyannis?
If you have been a victim of medical malpractice in Hyannis, MA, you can be compensated for your suffering. But this is only possible if you file for a medical malpractice claim as soon as possible. If you wait too long to file one, you might find that it’s too late.
Remember that evaluating your case can take one month or several months depending on how complicated your case is. Medical malpractice cases are not as straight forward as car accident cases or motorcycle accidents. This is why we stress that you should speak to a Medical malpractice lawyer in Hyannis as soon as you suspect you are a victim of medical negligence.