While patients turn to their doctors for treatment and care when they need it most, statistics show that medical malpractice is one of the leading causes of patient harm. Medication mistakes, surgical errors, misdiagnosis errors, and more can all lead to serious instances of patient harm, including fatal injuries in some cases. While you are most certainly not liable for the actions of your doctor, it is important to recognize the top factors that contribute to the risk of medical malpractice occurring, as well as how you can reduce that risk. Here’s what you should know–

Communication Errors

Multiple studies have been conducted with the intent of identifying the root cause of medical malpractice and, time and time again, studies’ findings indicate that communicate gaffes are a primary factor. Communication errors can occur between medical professionals, i.e. doctors with doctors, doctors with nurses, and nurses with nurses, as well as between doctors and patients. Some experts have concluded that good communication is the cornerstone of the physician-patient relationship

While you may not be able to influence how your doctor communicates with other members of their medical team, you can enhance your own communication. Be clear about your symptoms, repeat information back to your doctor and other members of the team, and confirm information before treatment (e.g. I’m John Smith, I’m here because my right leg is suffering from xyz condition, and today I’m undergoing procedure abc. I’m allergic to….). 

Understaffing & Worker Fatigue

Another two reasons that healthcare workers make mistakes has to do with how hospitals are staffed and how many patients doctors and other healthcare professionals are often asked to see in a day. Often times, medical professionals are extremely fatigued as a result of being asked to work long (often overnight) shifts, and understaffed. Again, while there is nothing that you as a patient can do to influence hospital and medical facility practices, you can protect yourself by researching the hospital, healthcare facility, or doctor or surgeon before you seek care. Consider rates of malpractice that have been reported, and choose a facility and doctor with strong reviews and a high sense of patient trust. 

Medical Abbreviations 

Medication errors, including dosage and prescription errors, often occur as a result of drug names that sound alike, as well as medical abbreviations that may mean one thing, but which are interpreted as something else. In order to reduce your risk of a medication mistake, go back to improved communication – ask your doctor, “Okay, so I am supposed to be taking 100 mg. of medication xyz twice a day for two weeks, right?” And then make sure you do the same thing with the pharmacist, too. 

Call Lovenberg & Associates, P.C. Today for Your Free Consultation

Medical mistakes can be devastating. As a patient, talking to your doctor, doing your homework, and staying engaged in your treatment can all help to reduce your risk of being a victim. If medical malpractice does occur, though, the responsible party should be held liable, and you deserve to be compensated. To learn more about how our law firm can serve you, please reach out to us today by phone at (617) 973-9950, or send us a confidential message online.