Going to the hospital can be an incredibly scary experience. Whether or not you know what the cause of your problems is, seeking medical treatment comes with a fair bit of uncertainty. Say, for example, you’ve been in a minor car accident, and you’re not sure if you’ve had a concussion. The symptoms that bring you to a hospital or doctor’s office often require tests, treatments, consultations, and more before you are diagnosed, treated, and discharged. On top of all of that, you might worry about doctors that seem distracted, indifferent, inexperienced, etc. We trust medical professionals to make us well when we’re sick or injured, but stories of medical malpractice are unfortunately as common as they are terrifying. Rest assured, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from medical malpractice.
How Common is Medical Malpractice?
True medical malpractice cases are frighteningly common. In hospitals all around the country, medical errors happen all the time. In fact, medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Even though fewer than one percent of hospital patients are victims of medical malpractice, 25,000 to 125,000 Americans die every year because of medical negligence. Medical errors are so common because they are very easy to make. Hospitals, especially large ones, require a lot of communication and coordination between doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff to provide care to so many patients. If any of these people make a mistake or is negligent, medical malpractice is likely to occur. While this isn’t always deadly, it can easily lead to negative patient outcomes.
The most common forms of medical malpractice are surgical errors, anesthesia errors, misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis, and medication errors. While some of these types of medical malpractice are easier to avoid than others, it’s important to understand your options. Understanding the common forms of medical malpractice can be beneficial because you’ll know what questions you should be asking if you’re ever in a similar situation.
What Can I Do to Avoid Medical Malpractice?
Because medical malpractice takes many forms, it may seem difficult to be fully prepared for it; especially because medical emergencies often take us by surprise. The most important thing you can do is communicate with your doctor. Ensuring your relationship with your doctor is strong and making sure that they completely understand your illness or injury can make a lot of difference.
Communication-related errors are the single biggest reason that medical malpractice occurs. On top of clear and consistent communication, it’s important to make sure you have your doctor’s recommendations in writing. Often, people listen to their doctors without fully understanding. Your doctor should be documenting all your treatments. If possible, take that documentation to another doctor and seek a second opinion. If you’re facing an especially risky surgery, do some basic research to make sure your doctor hasn’t had many malpractice claims before. There are resources available online that’ll help you determine whether you’re in good hands.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, don’t hesitate. You should contact one of the experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield right away. With over 70 collective years of legal and trial experience, we’ll be able to answer any questions you have over the course of a free consultation. If necessary, we’ll be able to represent you in a trial. While we believe most doctors are honest, hard-working people, we also believe it’s important to hold negligent or irresponsible parties accountable; especially when their mistakes do significant harm or cost people their lives.