Every day in Oregon and across America we put our faith and trust in a variety of highly-trained professionals. We might visit a lawyer for the preparation of a will and trust, or to help us with personal injury litigation. Certified Public Accountants help us prepare business records and tax returns. Investment and banking professionals provide us with financial advice for our retirement nest eggs. And, of course, there are medical care providers. We visit eye doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and a whole host of other medical professionals for routine care. Moreover, we rely upon a wide range of specialists to assist us with specific problems.
For many people, there are few times that they feel so vulnerable. After all, we are often relying on a stranger to restore our health, and the consequences of failure can be disastrous. While we are thankful that most doctors perform their services with great care and professionalism, there are some who make more mistakes than others. That leads us, in turn, to ask if there is anything we can do to protect ourselves. As Benjamin Franklin famously observed, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With that in mind, in this article we’ll take a look at some positive steps to consider taking to find a good doctor and avoid medical malpractice.
Use a Primary Care Physician
There are certainly times when specialists should be consulted and used, but it’s important to also have a primary care physician. This benefits the patient in several ways. First, the primary care physician can serve as repository of sorts, keeping copies of records from all of the patient’s doctors and medical treatment. Moreover, the patient can build a rapport with a single physician who comes to better understand the patient’s global needs over time. Research indicates that patients are happier, too.
Seek Board Certified Doctors
All doctors must complete medical school and obtain a license to practice medicine, but these are only the minimum qualifications. For specialists, obtaining “Board Certification” goes further. The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has designed a voluntary process of peer evaluation and testing that demonstrates that the doctor has a high level of expertise in a specific specialty. The program is considered rigorous. Here’s a helpful link which permits one to search by name to determine if a physician is Board Certified.
Check for Previous Discipline or Malpractice Claims
Knowing the disciplinary history of a doctor you are considering, as well as previous malpractice claims, can be invaluable. Oregon maintains a database with such information, which can be searched by doctor’s name, license number, or specialty and location. A link is provided at the conclusion of this article. While one should consider that not all claims against a doctor are valid, this can be a good resource to check for red flags to consider before hiring a doctor.
Consider the Technological Advancement of a Physician’s Practice
Like the rest of society, technology has provided important advancements for patients. Many medical care providers now store data electronically, and provide patients access to their data remotely. This allows you to review test results and other information when it is convenient for you. Moreover, it makes it easier to share your medical information with other providers who need to rely upon it.
Consider Reading Websites with Physician Reviews
A number of websites contain reviews of doctors, including from their current and former patients. The following are a few examples: healthgrades.com; angieslist.com; and webmd.com. There are many others that a simple internet search can uncover.
Call Us with Questions
Hopefully, by exercising some of the steps outlined in this article, you can avoid the misfortune of medical malpractice. But if you have suffered from medical negligence, we know you will have questions. The experienced lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield believe that all professionals must be held accountable for their errors, in order for all of society to be protected. Please call us with your questions and we will be happy to answer them.