In addition, government investigators released a report in July, 2016 which revealed that approximately one-third of patients in rehab facilities are harmed while undergoing treatment. The types of harm range from being given the wrong medication to being given an infection or bedsores.
What are some of the most common types of medical malpractice and what steps can you take to protect yourself and your loved ones? According to an article in the September, 2016 AARP Bulletin titled "12 Ways the Healthcare System May Be Harming You," below are the most common problems and how to avoid them.
A WRONG MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS
Doctors often miss even common causes for a patient's symptoms, so it is important for everyone to read up on their diagnosis, ask for their test results, get re-tested if they have doubts and get second opinions if they still have doubts about the diagnosis they have been given.
One common issue today is that an estimated 45 percent of patients do not get the recommended care for their condition. It is important patients ask in advance for the details of their treatment. If the doctor seems vague and non-specific, get a second opinion. Again, it never hurts to read up on your diagnosis and the common ways it is treated. If your doctor does not not appear to be following a common treatment protocol, ask the reason for the variance. It could be that another illness you have makes your treatment more complicated. However, every patient has the right to understand what to expect.
With everything we know about germs, including both bacteria and viruses, most patients assume that medical professionals take care not to infect their patients. Sadly, this is not the case. The CDC estimates that 721,800 infections are picked up in hospitals every year! This means that about 1 in 25 hospital patients are suffering from an infection they picked up during their treatment. About 75,000 of those infected patients die each year. Patients and family members need to make sure the medical staff washes their hands and/or uses hand sanitizer regularly. In addition, all visitors, including family members, should be careful to use good hygiene, as well.
OTHER COMMON PROBLEMS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM
Communication lapses between various caregivers and medical personnel - Ask questions and try to have another person with you at the hospital and during doctor visits. Make sure everyone who is treating you knows your full medical record.
Confusing information at the time patients are discharged - Confirm that both you and another family member understands your discharge instructions, including what medications you should take, which ones to avoid, and what activities are allowed.
Prescription drug mistakes and conflicts - Be certain your doctor knows all the prescriptions and over-the-counter supplements you are using. Question the hospital caregivers or the pharmacist if a drug you are prescribed looks or tastes different than it did in the past.
Doctors who are not up-to-date on the latest guidelines - Does your doctor know the latest recommendations for treating your condition? You can investigate your care at the National Guideline Clearinghouse at guideline.gov. Ask you doctor if there is a reason why they are not following the latest treatment protocol.
Unskilled doctors - While most doctors do an excellent job of caring for their patients, just 1 percent of doctors are responsible for nearly one-third of malpractice claims. Investigate your doctors and surgeons online. One site where you can see their complications rate is projects.propublica.org/surgeons.
Using small clinics and local facilities which are inadequate - Make sure the outpatient clinic or facility you are using has a good safety record and performs the procedure you need frequently. If possible, use ones which are affiliated with a large hospital that has a good record. Investigate, investigate, investigate every aspect of your care, from the doctor you are seeing to the the facility you are using.
Patients who are difficult and do not take responsibility for their own care - Patients who want the best possible care should be as pleasant as possible and not complain about things the physician cannot control ... parking fees, the way the food tastes, etc. In addition, they should follow their physicians instructions carefully, practice good hygiene themselves, and make sure they fully disclose everything possible about their symptoms, alcohol use, drug use, supplement use and other factors which could be causing their illness or complicating their treatment.
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