It may be hard to believe, but medical negligence is the third most common cause of death in the United States. According to Forbes magazine, the Journal of the American Medical Association ranks medical malpractice right behind cancer and cardiac disease as the top killers in America today.
While this fact is rather alarming, there are things you can do to avoid being a victim of medical malpractice yourself. In the interest of better health for all, we are pleased to offers these savvy tips that can help you be a more proactive patient.
Pay attention and don’t be afraid to speak up
The number one way to protect yourself from medical mistakes is to be proactive about your health care. When your physician tells you something, don’t simply take their word for it. The internet is a great resource when it comes to researching medical conditions.
Reputable websites such as those provided by Mayo Clinic and the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, offer searchable databases and plentiful information regarding almost every medical condition imaginable.
Do your homework so that you can compose a list of intelligent questions about your specific health condition. Ask questions about your prognosis and treatment options, and if you don’t understand the medical jargon used by your doctor, ask him or her to explain in words that make sense to you. If your physician acts as if they don’t have time to explain, you may wish to consider finding a different doctor.
Bring a friend along to medical appointments
Having a trusted companion accompany you to medical appointments, especially ones where you may be unconscious during a procedure, is a good idea for many reasons.
Knowing that you have someone there to watch out for your best interests even when you cannot speak for yourself may instill the confidence you need to face your medical condition without fear and loathing. It may also inspire your medical team to do their very best work.
Get a second opinion
While this seems easy enough, far too many people rely on one medical professional to know everything about their condition and how best to treat it. A proactive patient who consults with at least one other doctor about a troubling condition may find that the second doctor offers treatment options that make more sense in the long run.
If and when something does go awry, and if you are injured by a medical professional you trusted, your best option may be to speak with an experienced medical injury attorney at a law firm such as Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.
A medical malpractice attorney will probably ask for copies of your medical records and pertinent health history. They may request interviews with your family members and others to determine if you have an actionable case. No law office worth its salt will promise to win a lawsuit for you, but your chances of receiving justice are better with an experienced legal team on your side than without.
Sophia Marshall is at law school and writes on a range of law related topics in her articles which appear on law, lifestyle and news blogs around the web.