Medical malpractice is defined as any action taken by a doctor or ,medical professional such as a nurse, physician’s assistant, surgical team member, or EMT worker resulting in the personal injury or wrongful death of a patient.. A very clinical definition of something personal and heartbreaking when the results are severe medical impairment or even wrongful death, malpractice is a very real problem in the healthcare field today. Knowing examples, what to do to make certain a doctor has a good track record, and what hospitals have a high incidence of medical error can be helpful in preventing malpractice.
Every year in the United States alone there are 98,000 cases of wrongful death malpractice a year. That number means that hospital and physician error causes more deaths that even breast cancer, prostate cancer or drunk driving combined. No one likes to believe that a doctor, nurse, or aide they put their trust in can cause them any harm but it can and will happen as 80% of medical malpractice is the result of human error.
Not all malpractice is deliberate. In fact, most if not at all are genuine errors in chart reading and patient history. However, there are specific forms of malpractice that occur and patients should be aware of them before entering a hospital for treatment of any kind. Surgery, anesthesia, administering of drugs, brain trauma, birth trauma, paralysis, delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis are all forms of malpractice when performed in error.
Hospital advocates visit each patient before and after a procedure to ensure they are doing well and are enjoying their care. This is a good time to ask for the hospital policies and to make certain living wills are in order should something amiss occur. These advocates act as social workers and their job is to provide the patient with as much information about their doctor and the hospital they are being treat in as possible. If an advocate is hesitant to share this information it may be a sign there is something to hide.
Ask as many questions as possible about the procedure. Knowing what to expect will help with deciding if the care given was quality care or subpar. If something doesn’t feel right, if the surgery hasn’t gone well, or a patient is still struggling to recover in the normal timeframe asking the doctor for answers is not rude it is imperative. If a doctor avoids specific questions about the care provided or hospital staff ignore a patient’s requests for another exam, continue to be vigilant and even ask for a second opinion.
Always know what to expect before entering a hospital for even the simplest procedure and make certain nurses and staff go through the steps of the process beforehand. If something seems wrong or if something is making a patient uncomfortable an honest and efficient staff will immediately go about finding a solution to any questions the patient poses. It’s a patient’s right to know what is going on with their care and their body.