In a perfect world, patients would be guaranteed high quality medical care. They would not have to worry about receiving the wrong medication or being subjected to the wrong treatment. Conditions would be diagnosed as early as humanly possible, and it would be the correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, we do not live in this perfect world. Medical mistakes happen, and the very care that is supposed to heal a patient ends up killing them instead. Cancer and heart disease are missed, causing unnecessary death.
Thankfully, there are things that patients can do to protect themselves. They can be informed and aware of the problems that exist in healthcare industry. They can do research their doctors and care providers to ensure they are being treated by someone who is competent. They can empower themselves and actively participate in the care they receive. The following information can help you do just that.
Understand Your Risk
Medical errors are now considered the third leading cause of death in America. That puts it above car accidents, suicide, obesity, and stroke. In fact, only heart attack and cancer cause more deaths on an annual basis. So why are we not talking about it? Part of it could be that no one has a concrete answer on how to solve the problem, but it could also be that many simply do not believe they are at risk. Medical error is something that happens to “other people.” Do not buy into this. A medical error could happen to you, and you should do everything in your power to prevent it.
Be an Informed Patient
Part of the problem with the healthcare industry is that it is designed to hide mistakes. Doctors who have felony convictions, were disciplined for drug or alcohol use on the job, or failed to provide the minimum standard of care are permitted to continue practicing medicine. Because they are not obligated to inform their patients, most are none the wiser. Even worse is that a simple search for any disciplinary action taken against your doctor may provide very little information. Instead, you must be much more diligent when checking out your provider. Search for them by name and look for any court documents to determine if they have been named in malpractice lawsuits or criminal matters. Find out as much as you can about them – because what you do not know could hurt you.
Be an Active Participant in Your Care
When you are visiting a new doctor, are encouraged to undergo a procedure, or are required to go through surgery, it is important that you work as an active participant in your care. Ask questions and ensure you fully understand a procedure and its risks, that you know everything you need to know about your postoperative care and medications, and that you know how to spot possible complications. Ask daily about your progress, and inquire about when your catheter can come out. Supply a full list of your medicines, including herbal supplements, each time you see a new doctor and always take one to the hospital. Lastly, never be afraid to get a second, third, or even fourth opinion.
If an Injury or Illness Occurs
Even if you take all the preventative measures possible, the risk of a medical mistake still exists. Should one happen to you, know how to fight back. Seek justice through compensation and always turn to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer for help. Most of all, know that you do have the right to expect fair and full payment for the injury or illness caused by a medical error.
At Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C., we aggressively protect the rights of injured patients. Dedicated and experienced, we will stand by your side as a trusted advocate. We will pursue the most favorable outcome possible in your case. Schedule a consultation with our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys today to learn more. Call [[phone]].