Jeremy Thurman on April 10, 2012
You have undoubtedly heard the term “medical malpractice,” but do you understand what it truly means? It’s more than a doctor making a simple error during treatment. Some victims of doctors’ negligence lose faculties, limbs, and even their lives. Sometimes your only recourse is to seek the help of a medical malpractice attorney. But that’s after the damage is already done. How can you help your doctors avoid medical mishaps in the first place?
Doctors are required to carry medical malpractice insurance in order to practice medicine. As medical costs—and litigation costs—go up, so do insurance premiums. Aside from just not wanting to harm their patients, doctors want to avoid costly insurance costs, not to mention legal fees and damaged reputations. It’s in their best interests to work with you to avoid treatment mistakes.
Before you have any type of procedure done, whether it’s a small, outpatient procedure or major surgery, talk with your doctor about exactly what the procedure entails. This is especially important when the procedure must be done on one of multiple parts of the body. For example, if you must have eye surgery, make sure you and the doctor are both clear on which eye needs treatment. Patients have lost their vision entirely when the healthy eye was operated on by mistake.
The same sort of error has occurred with limb amputations, where healthy arms or legs were removed rather than the damaged limb, presenting even more challenges for the patient in terms of recovery and carrying on with their lives. It would be difficult enough to have to learn how to walk again after losing one leg. But losing both because of medical malpractice can cause much more hardship and suffering for the patient.
In some cases, it’s not the wrong limb amputated in favor of the unhealthy one, but a completely unnecessary amputation altogether. Patients have sometimes been incorrectly diagnosed with conditions that would normally require amputation of the limb, when the truth is, they didn’t have the disease at all. This kind of medical malpractice can be especially devastating to the patient upon learning they lost a completely healthy limb for no reason.
We need to be able to trust our doctors, but you must also remain vigilant in your own care. Talk to your doctor and know what’s going on. If the worst happens, you will be better prepared to take action.