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Simple things to do to avoid medical malpractice, part I

This blog has previously covered many different medical malpractice horror stories in an effort to warn Albany patients of just what could go wrong in a hospital setting. Even though most of the people working in New York hospitals and clinics are competent medical professionals, sometimes a simple mistake could be the difference between a patient's life and death. There are, however, some things that patients can do to protect themselves against hospital injuries.

One of the most important things to do, if you have the luxury of time and scheduling an appointment, is to speak with a surgeon or doctor beforehand about the procedure. Ask the physician how many times he or she has performed the procedure, what his or her success rate is and what, if any, complications could arise. For any Albany resident undergoing an elective procedure, this provides a chance to better decide if the procedure is appropriate after everything has been explained.

Another crucial piece of advice is to ask to see your medical records. Although many hospitals may not be accustomed to a patient asking for his or her medical records, it will give you the chance to see if any doctors have disagreed on your diagnosis or treatment options. You can also be more of an advocate for yourself when your doctor refuses to even consider a previous physician's opinion.

In addition to asking for your medical records, you should also have a journal with you at the hospital. This way you can have a list of all the medications, dosages and strengths of medicines you take. While doctors should look through your medical history and see what medicines you are taking, collecting all the information for them may make it easier to ensure that they have actually read it. Your journal can also have all of your emergency contact numbers and any questions you may have for your physician.

It is also advisable that patients keep an accurate log of who does what procedures on what days, which hospital staff visit when, and any other relevant interactions with medical professionals.

There is no guarantee that medical malpractice won't happen, but when it does, there are opportunities open to injured patients. Medical malpractice lawsuits and attorneys can help patients not only recover, but also hold the responsible parties liable.

Source: The Connecticut Mirror, "A patient survival guide, from a mother who learned too late," Arielle Levin Becker, March 8, 2012

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