Medical Malpractice is rampant. You’ve probably been hearing about it in the news. It is now the third leading cause of death (after heart disease and cancer) in America. But, readers, we bear good news: Although you can’t avoid all malpractice, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize the likelihood that you or your loved ones will be victims:
- Buddy up. Always bring a trusted friend or family member with you to a hospital surgery. Having someone act as your advocate throughout your stay is crucial, especially if you will be medicated or anesthetized. Sign any legal paperwork needed so your “advocate” has permission to know the details of your treatment and to discuss it with your doctors and nurses.
- Let’m Know. Make sure your healthcare professionals have your correct health information, including pre-existing conditions and allergies. Never assume they already know.
- Follow Up For Test Results. If you have a test done, ask about the results. Don’t assume that no news is good news, and always ask for a copy of the results, and for an explanation of what they mean for you.
- Give Your Prescription List. Make sure your doctor has an accurate list of all medications you’ve been taking.
- Check Prescriptions. Double-check with the pharmacist that the drug and doses she is giving you matches the script your doctor wrote.
- Know Your Drugs. If you receive a prescription, don’t just take it. Find out what it is for, how long you need to use it, and what the possible side-effects and contraindications are.
- Investigate your doctor, hospital. It’s ok to doc shop. Choose the facility and the doctor who have the most experience performing your procedure and good track records. Compare hospitals’ infection rates, complication rates, and much more at medicare.gov.
- Avoid wrong-site surgery. Pre-surgery procedure is supposed to include marking the part of your body that will be operated on. Make sure they do it, and do it right!
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Michael G. Bersani, Esq.