According to recent statistics from Patient Safety America, as many as 440,000 people die from preventable medical mistakes each year. If Stanford University researchers are correct, those deaths were likely caused by just a very small fraction of doctors (about one percent). Even more concerning is that many of those doctors – doctors who have removed wrong body parts, worked while intoxicated, overprescribed medication, and so much more – are allowed to continue practicing medicine, despite their negligent or even willful and wanton actions.
The Hidden Truth
Each state has its own respective licensing board. Comprised mostly of other doctors, these self-governed boards are responsible for the licensing and reprimand of physicians who have made grave mistakes or acted negligently. The problem is that, instead of protecting patients, they seem to protect their own. In fact, only a small percentage of complaints ever lead to a sanction for offending doctors; even if it does, the information does not become a part of public record. And, because many are allowed to continue practicing during that time and have no obligation to tell their patients about any investigations or disciplinary actions against them, the public continues to be placed at risk.
Knowledge is Power
Since the licensing boards meant to protect the public fail at doing so, and the information that should be made available to patients is difficult (or even impossible) for the general population to find, it is critical that patients know how to protect themselves adequately from bad doctoring. They should know how to look up the licensing status of their doctor, and they should know how to spot warning flags that indicate the possibility of dangerous doctoring. Things to look out for include:
- Lack of attentiveness,
- Failure to make eye contact,
- Numerous visits from drug representatives,
- Signs of intoxication,
- Inability or unwillingness to fully answer your questions,
- A history of investigations or disciplinary actions on the state's medical board website,
- Affiliation with hospitals that are known for poor standard of care,
- Failure to fully explain diagnosis or treatment options,
- Failure to specify if or when you should return for a follow-up appointment,
- Staff that is unfriendly, inefficient, or disrespectful, and
- A history of medical malpractice claims.
Some of this information may be difficult to find. However, you can check the state licensing boards and do an online search for the doctor you are investigating (use keywords like “sanction,” “lawsuit,” “malpractice,” etc. to look for malpractice issues. Other information may require you to visit the doctor and simply observe how they and their office operates. If, at any given time, you feel that your doctor is failing to meet the standards you consider to be good practice, keep yourself and your family safe by searching for another physician.
Victim of Medical Malpractice? You May Be Due Compensation
Even if you conduct the very best investigation, it is still possible to come across a doctor guilty of preventable mistakes or willful and wanton negligence. In these instances, it is important to know that, depending on the circumstances, you may be due compensation. A skilled attorney can help you determine if you have a case and represent you throughout the process to ensure your rights and interest are protected.
At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. we work hard to advocate for victims and their families. Backed by more than 75 years of combined experience, our Chicago, Illinois medical malpractice attorneys can provide the skills, knowledge, and resources needed to help you and your loved ones pursue the compensation you deserve. Obtain the dedicated and aggressive representation you deserve. Call [[phone]] and schedule your free initial consultation today.