How Proactive Patients Can Reduce the Risk of Medical Errors

It’s the responsibility of healthcare providers to ensure the safety and well-being of their patients. Unfortunately, acts of medical malpractice and negligence happen every day around the country. Patients can protect themselves by being proactive about identifying and preventing medical errors.

Background Check

You may not always get to choose your doctor, such as when you’re taken to the emergency room. When you do have a choice, take a few minutes to research the doctor’s background. The ideal healthcare provider will have:

  • Training at respectable institutions
  • Board certification in his or her specialty
  • No professional disciplinary actions
  • No consistent history of prior medical malpractice lawsuits

If you’ll be undergoing surgery or another complex treatment, such as treatment of cancer, take a close look at the doctor’s level of experience. For instance, if you’ll be having hip replacement surgery, don’t be afraid to ask your orthopedic surgeon how many of these surgeries he/she has performed, and what is their particular complication/success rate.

Informed Consent
Before having a medical procedure, such as surgery, your doctor is required to obtain your informed consent. In other words, you have the legal right to be fully informed of every aspect of your treatment, including the potential risks and alternatives. You also have the right to reject a proposed treatment after weighing the pros and cons of the plan of care. If you’re uncomfortable with your treatment plan, you can continue to ask questions, learn about your diagnosis and the treatment, and seek a second opinion from another healthcare provider.

Medication Safety
Medication errors are a common type of malpractice. A mistake can occur at any point in the process—from the doctor’s initial prescribing information to the pharmacist’s dispensing actions to the nurse who administers the medicine in the hospital. Before taking any medication, make sure the prescribing doctor has your full health history. If you’re receiving medication in the hospital, ask the nurse to verify the name and dosage of the drug, cross-referenced with your patient records and your medications you are taking

At Pegalis & Erickson, LLC, we’ve made it our life’s work to tirelessly advocate on behalf of patients on their families. Contact our malpractice law firm on Long Island, New York at (516) 858-2194 if you think you’ve been affected by an act of medical negligence. Some of our negligence and wrongful death lawsuits have resulted in multimillion-dollar jury awards for our clients.

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