Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Medical Malpractice

TIPS TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

  1. Select experienced board certified physicians. Get the best primary care physician you can find. They should detect medical conditions, make accurate diagnoses and coordinate further care, if required. Board certification assures that a physician has met minimum levels of training and competency. You can check credentials for MDs at www.abms.org and for osteopathic doctors at www.aoa-net.org. If a physician is not listed with these organizations they are not board certified. We recommend that you move on.
  2. Select doctors that are affiliated with major hospitals. All hospitals are not the same. The closest hospital may not be the best hospital for your condition. Research your hospital to find out their ranking generally, and for the type of care you require. You must be willing to travel to get the best medical care for your condition.
  3. Educate yourself. Become an active participant in your healthcare. You are the most important team member. Research your health condition and treatment options and ask questions. One of the best things you can do is Google your condition. If you have a family history of a condition or disease, don't wait for your physician to suggest screening, ask. If you have not had screening for major killers like heart disease and cancer, find out what screening is recommended and discuss with your physician. An informed and involved patient will receive a higher level of care. If your doctor does not listen or answer your questions, find a new doctor who will.
  4. Follow up on all testing. No news is not always good news. When you're physician orders testing ask how the results will be communicated. If a follow-up visit is recommended, attend. Sometimes test results are lost or forgotten with tragic consequences. Don't let this happen to you.
  5. Consider a specialist. Your primary care doctor doesn't know everything. A specialist has expertise which will allow for more in-depth workup, monitoring and treatment. Specialists can see you on a one-time consult or they can provide ongoing care.
  6. Get a second opinion. This is especially true if your condition is serious or rare. Find out who the experts in the field are and make an appointment. Consider going outside your current "hospital family" as this may help get a fresh perspective.
  7. What about surgery? If surgery has been recommended make sure you need the operation. Blue Cross Blue Shield will oftentimes pay for a second opinion to confirm the indication or reason for your operation. If surgery is needed, confirm your surgeon's experience with your specific procedure. Does your doctor do the procedure once a day/week/month/year/decade? Ask about their complication rate. Experience and good results go hand-in-hand. Ask if your surgeon will be performing the entire operation. Major hospitals have residency training programs. Ask your physician if a resident will be performing part or all of your surgery and if so, what is their experience level and how will they be supervised. Make sure your surgeon is present throughout the procedure. You want your surgeon scrubbed in and at the table, not just somewhere in the building or at his/her office while your surgery is being performed.
  8. Designate an advocate if you are unable to act. During an illness or treatment for an injury you may not be able to effectively participate in your care. Ask a friend or relative to become educated in your condition and have them come to appointments with you and take notes and ask questions. Execute a health care power of attorney.
  9. Communicate - Communicate - Communicate-- with all of your healthcare providers. . Insist on answers to all your questions. Don't be reluctant to be an active team member. Your health is on the line.
  10. Trust your instincts. If you are concerned regarding your health but are told nothing is wrong, again, trust your instincts. Ask for further testing or second opinion. Frequently, diagnoses are inaccurate. Physicians are human. They can be wrong.