Patients can help avoid malpractice by becoming their own advocates and learning everything they can about their specific medical conditions, researching all prescribed medications and other treatments, and investigating doctors before deciding on which one is the best fit for them.
Understand that medical malpractice is not your fault. A health care professional’s negligence, whether by act or omission, is his own responsibility.
However, it’s still important to be your own advocate by educating yourself about your medical condition, fully researching and understanding your medications and other treatments, and “interviewing” doctors before making a final decision.
1. Understand Your Medical Condition
First, educate yourself about your specific medical condition. Look for scholarly documents on your specific illness or disorder at your local library or on reputable medical websites.
Plus, there are many advocacy and even government organizations out there that provide educational literature about specific conditions. For example, if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you’d greatly benefit from reaching out to the American Cancer Society for information about your specific kind of cancer and the latest research on treatment options.
2. Research Your Medications and Other Treatments
Second, research any medications and other treatments you’re prescribed.
Don’t just blindly swallow a pill; read up on its side effects and any other potential risks as well as any clinical trials and studies you can find. Talk with your doctor about all possible options and work with him or her to make the best possible decision for your condition.
3. Investigate Every Doctor Beforehand
Third, instead of making a doctor’s appointment with the first website or number you see listed – or just accepting the specialist referral your primary care physician recommends – do some research.
- Talk to family members, friends, and even co-workers about doctors they trust for similar conditions. What were there experiences? Did they receive excellent treatment? Did they feel neglected or as if their appointments were rushed and not a priority? What about malpractice suits – did any of them experience one? Of course, just because one person had a bad experience with a particular doctor doesn’t mean you will, too, but this kind of research is a good jumping off point.
- Research the doctor’s credentials. Ask about his or her license and whether he or she is board-certified. Find out where he or she went to school and where he or she completed residency. Also ask how long the doctor has been practicing. You don’t necessarily want to discriminate against one doctor for not being in practice as long as another, but when all your research comes together, that might play a deciding role.
- Schedule a “trial appointment” with the doctor. Sure, it’ll be a regular appointment or consultation to your doctor, but you can treat it as an interview. Jot down any questions and concerns you have and bring them with you. How competent was the doctor in answering them? Did you feel comfortable with his or her answers? Did you feel comfortable overall during the appointment?
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to make appointments with several different doctors. You don’t have to commit to one just because your best friend said he or she was the best, or because you had an appointment with him or her. Spend time investigating several doctors before making your decision. This applies to seeking second opinions, too.
Are You the Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you’re in the West Palm Beach or Port St. Lucie area and believe you’re the victim of a medical malpractice situation, contact the law offices of Fetterman & Associates, PA right away.
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