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When you need medical treatment, it’s important that you can trust the doctor, surgeon, or other healthcare provider who is treating you. But there can be risks associated with medical treatment, and sometimes, those risks are due to providers’ negligence. When this happens, it’s called medical malpractice, and its victims can suffer serious injuries and illnesses, and some even die.
Being a victim of medical malpractice may seem like luck of the draw—either it happens to you or it doesn’t. And while it’s true that no one can predict with 100% accuracy whether they’ll be a victim, there are a few signs to watch out for and a few steps to take to reduce your risks.
Whether you’re being treated by your long-term family doctor, you’re seeing a new doctor, or you’ve been referred to a specialist, it’s important to find out their credentials and history. The State Medical Board of Ohio allows patients to search doctors’ licenses both in state and nationally to determine whether they’ve ever been disciplined for negligence or other violations.
Reading online reviews can also help you get a clearer picture of the type of care your doctor provides, but it’s important to read these with a grain of salt. Anyone can post reviews, and some may be posted during emotionally charged times, such as during a stressful illness, so they may contain inaccurate or false information.
Two of the most common types of medical malpractice are misdiagnosis and failure to diagnose. These often occur in clinical settings where doctors have a limited amount of time to see each patient, which means they don’t have enough time to thoroughly evaluate patients, ask about their symptoms, and make a proper diagnosis.
If you think you’ve been misdiagnosed or that your doctor isn’t taking your symptoms and complaints seriously, get a second opinion. Even if the next doctor simply confirms what the first doctor said, a second opinion can give you peace of mind. And in some cases, a second opinion can save your life, especially if it results in a more accurate diagnosis, or a diagnosis when there wasn’t one to begin with.
When you’re being treated for a health problem or illness, it can be difficult to wrap your head around all of the information your doctor throws at you—especially if the illness is life-changing or even life-threatening. You may be overwhelmed trying to understand your diagnosis and treatment regimen, which can make it easy to not pick up on inconsistencies, oversights, or glaring errors from your doctor.
Bringing a spouse, significant other, family member, or friend to appointments with you can help you keep track of what’s going on, especially if you need to see multiple specialists. Communication between doctors and facilities isn’t always perfect, and they don’t always do their due diligence. This step can reduce the risk of communication errors, harmful medication interactions, and misdiagnosis.
After treatment or surgery, it’s not always easy to tell the difference between a normal side effect or expected complication, such as pain or light bleeding, and a serious problem. Many medications and procedures are linked to a whole host of potential problems, so when something seems wrong, you may be tempted to dismiss it and wait for it to resolve on its own.
But it’s important to be proactive in your health, especially when you’re beginning or recovering from a treatment. Keep an open line of communication with your doctor, surgeon, and care team, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or schedule appointments if you think something is wrong.
Doctors are highly educated and have an in-depth knowledge of the body and medicine. But they aren’t infallible, and they don’t always know every aspect of every patient’s health, history, medications, and other information. It’s your job to arrive at your appointments as well-versed in your own health as possible and to listen carefully when your doctor is speaking to you.
If your doctor seems misinformed about your condition or the medications you take, or if you believe they’ve misinterpreted your symptoms, tell them right away. Don’t be afraid to question or challenge your doctor’s assumptions and facts, especially if you’ve received differing information in the past or from other providers. Sometimes, a quick interjection can dramatically change the course of a patient’s treatments.
The thought of being a victim of medical malpractice is frightening. Being diagnosed with an illness or health problem is stressful enough already, so you should be able to trust your doctor, surgeon, or other medical professional will help you get better. But getting worse or even developing new problems because of a healthcare provider’s negligence is more common than you think, and it could happen to you.
If you believe that you or someone you love is a medical malpractice victim, we want to help you get the compensation you’re owed for this breach of trust. At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, our legal team knows how complex medical malpractice claims can be, and we aren’t afraid to take them on to help our clients get full financial recoveries. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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