A study conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Mongan Institute for Health Policy revealed that 20 percent of doctors are not always honest with patients when it comes to medical mistakes, in large part for fear of being sued for medical malpractice.
The study also showed that 33 percent of doctors surveyed said they did not completely agree with informing patients about serious medical errors.
Researchers gathered survey data from almost 1,900 doctors in different specialties, asking them what they thought they needed to disclose to patients. More than half of the doctors said they did not tell their patients about all the risks or benefits of specific medical procedures.
While these results are troubling, there are some measures you can take to avoid becoming a medical malpractice victim, whether you are having surgery or just getting a new prescription. Here are some tips:
- A week before your surgery, schedule a preoperative visit to your surgeon’s office to go over your surgery and ask any questions. Take a family member with you, and obtain any postoperative prescriptions so you can have them filled prior to surgery.
- Meet with the surgeon prior to your surgery and confirm the details of your upcoming surgical procedure, including the type of surgery and site.
- Meet with the anesthesiologist and discuss what type of anesthesia will be used and any potential side effects.
- While most people find it annoying to have to fill out medical information forms every time they visit a doctor, it is a critical part of your medical records. Your doctor needs a thorough understanding of your past medical history to provide you with the best care. Your doctor will use this information in making a diagnosis, so it is essential that the records are completely accurate.
- Ask your primary care physician if you can review your medical records. Just like checking a credit report for errors, reviewing your medical records for accuracy can prevent a future medical error.
- Always request a copy of your test results for your files, whether they are negative or positive.
Make sure you can read your doctor’s prescription and ask the doctor to avoid abbreviations that could be confusing (for example, qd=once a day while qid=4 times a day).
- Give your doctor a full list of all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter and herbal medications or vitamins.
- Be sure your doctor knows about any allergies you have, especially allergies to medicines.
Make sure you understand why the medication is being prescribed for you, how you are supposed to take it, any foods or activities that should be avoided, and any possible drug interactions or side effects.
Making sure that you have an open and honest relationship with your physicians will go a long way toward protecting you against any potential medical errors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and let your doctor know you want and expect full and honest explanations.
If you or someone you love has been injured as a result of a medical mistake, our Texas medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and resources to help you through this difficult time and obtain just compensation for your injuries. Please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation.