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10 Ways to Avoid Getting Hurt at the Doctor’s Office

October 18, 2013

Decrease Your Chances of Injury at the Doctor’s Office

avoid injury at the doctor's office.

Work with your doctor and take charge of your care. These are just a few ways to decrease your chances of getting injured.

The medical malpractice cases we handle at Lowenthal & Abrams are pretty awful. When I discuss the cases with the other lawyers, I frequently find myself shaking my head. The mistakes are often so inexcusable, the harm so serious, it is hard to understand how such things could ever have happened. But they do.

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are human beings, and mistakes happen. But when those mistakes involve violating the standard of care and causing serious harm, or even death, that is unacceptable.  It is at that point that a lawyer can step in and help you to seek compensation for the harm done to yourself or your loved one.

Tips for Avoiding Injury

I think all of us, patients, doctors an lawyers agree, it would be best if patients could avoid being harmed by medical malpractice in the first place. So here are some steps you can take to decrease your risk:

  1. Be in control. You should be in control of your treatment. You need to make certain you are comfortable with your doctor or surgeon. Perform research. Ask your friends. Choose a doctor you feel you can trust. Someone who has a lot of experience handling your medical problem. Also, make sure your doctor listens to what you have to say.
  2. Make sure you understand the risks. Many types of medical care have serious risks. Especially surgery. Before you decide to  have any kind of medical treatment, make sure you understand what could happen to you. Then, if the treatment is not completely necessary, or if there is a different, less risky treatment available, you can make an informed decision about your treatment. Perform research on the various options. The Internet is a wealth of information. Look for sites that have reliable information about the medical treatment you will be undergoing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If your doctor won’t let you ask questions, it is time to look for a different doctor.
  3. Follow up. If you have a test done, but you don’t hear anything, do not assume that your test is fine. Call the doctor’s office and get the results. A common source of malpractice is doctors not receiving test results or not referring to them until it is too late. Just because a doctor says “we will call you if anything is wrong” don’t trust that you will be called. The office could make a mistake or there could be a delay in your results.
  4. Bring someone with you.  If you learn you have a serious illness, you will probably be overwhelmed. There is no shame in this. Ask someone to serve as your advocate. That way when your brain freezes as you are trying to consider all of your options and hear what the doctor is saying, someone who cares about you will be there to speak up and make sure you are getting all of the information you need.
  5. Communicate and don’t hold anything back. Talk to your doctor. Make sure you give all of your background to him. You might think something doesn’t matter, but it could. If your doctor rushes you through the examination or won’t listen to you, find a different doctor.
  6. Listen and be responsive. Help your doctor help you. Don’t create an argumentative relationship with your doctor and his staff. Ask questions, but answer questions you are asked. Do what your doctor asks you to do (assuming you have followed steps 1 and 2.) Many patients do not do what they are asked to do, increasing the risks to themselves. Arguing with a doctor or his staff is going to create a difficult relationship, decreasing your chances for good care. The doctor could also choose to “fire” you.
  7. Get a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to see another doctor for a second opinion. A good doctor will welcome a second opinion. If your doctor gets angry at you because you want a second opinion, it is time to get a new doctor.
  8. Make sure your doctors communicate. Frequently, if someone has a serious illness, she has more than one doctor. It is important that these doctors are aware of each other and communicate. Check with your doctor and his office to make certain that all of your doctors know of and are providing the proper information to each other. Speak up.
  9. Check everything. Get to know what your medication looks like, check the doses and the pills when you get a prescription from the pharmacy. If you are in the hospital, ask before you take a pill. Ask what is being injected into your IV. Never be afraid to ask. If you have a loved one who cannot ask, ask for her.
  10. Insist on cleanliness. Whether in or out of the hospital, washed hands and clean instruments are crucial. At the hospital, doctors and nurses generally wash their hands right in the room. If they don’t, ask. If a doctor’s office looks dirty, find a different doctor.

Need Help? Contact Us

There is no sure way to avoid injury by a negligent medical professional. But, if you take control of your care and aren’t afraid to speak up, you can substantially reduce the risk.  But, if you or a loved one do suffer a serious injury, do not be afraid to seek the compensation to which you are entitled.  Call the lawyers of Lowenthal & Abrams today.

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