Let's say you're in the doctor's office. You were called in to follow up on a biopsy that was conducted a few days ago. The doctor sits you down and explains the difficult news: you have cancer. Thoughts race through your mind: concerns about yourself, your family, your finances, your future.
As patients, we entrust ourselves to family physicians, surgeons, and medical specialists with the assumption that they have our best interests at heart, that they want to help make us healthy, that they will protect us from that which might harm us. Unfortunately, not all physician’s have their patient’s best interests in mind. In some cases, physicians abuse their power and take advantage of patients, sometimes getting away with it.
Early and accurate diagnosis is critical when it comes to effectively treating cancer. Depending on the type of cancer a patient is suspected to have, there are a variety of screening tests that can be used to diagnose the condition.
In our last post, we began speaking about medication errors and the attempt to address the issue through computerized systems in which physicians send prescription orders directly to pharmacies in a standardized format. As we noted, the technology has been helpful in reducing medication errors, but still fails to catch 13 percent of potentially fatal errors.
In our last post, we looked at a recent analysis of federal data which found that hospital errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. The finding is staggering, especially given the amount of trust patients and their families place in their health care providers. Hospital errors come in a wide variety, but the most common mistake is errors with medication.
Most of us are aware that we face some risk of error and harm when we receive medical care, and we willingly take that risk. Most people are probably not aware, though, that medical errors are among the leading causes of death in the United States.
In our last post, we mentioned that filing a complaint with the state medical board can be an appropriate avenue for an injured patient to seek some justice in his or her case. Complaints, or grievances, can be filed with respect to professional misconduct, standard of care, irregularities in practice and unethical conduct, all of which are issues that can come up in medical malpractice litigation.
Last time, we looked at the issue of how medical malpractice litigation and physician discipline are related. As we noted, pursuing medical malpractice litigation is not always automatically going to be the right thing to do in every case. Even in cases where an injured patient or a surviving family member has a meritorious claim, it needs to be determined whether the costs of pursuing medical malpractice litigation are worth the likely outcome in terms of damages.
When a patient is injured by a careless physician, a lot of questions arise. What caused the injury? Who is at fault? Will my physician take responsibility or be punished in some way? How do I hold liable parties accountable? How do I pay for this? How much recovery money will I be awarded? These are important questions, but not necessarily questions that can be immediately answered for a patient.