Medical Malpractice Is Preventable - Learn How To Recognize The Signs

All medical malpractice is preventable. It is always a result of a hospital's failure to follow Patient Safety Rules. There are several signs and symptoms of potential medical malpractice situations in hospitals that you as a patient should watch out for. If you see any of these signs or symptoms, you should find a different hospital. 

Many of the problems we see with medical care seem to happen over and over at a number of hospitals in the District and throughout the D.C. area. Sometimes its an individual doctor, nurse, intern, resident, technician, etc. that doesn't do the right thing - because they are in a rush, haven't been trained properly, doesn't understand the severity of a patient's condition or the need to see a specialist, but many times medical mistakes happen because of systems failures in hospitals, HMOs and doctor's offices.

1. No System For Following Up On Test Results

Every hospital should have what we call Patient Safety Rules; these are established and followed protocols to making sure the systems of the hospital don't fail and leave a patient severely injured. For example, there should be a protocol in place to follow up on all test results, and communicate the test results to the patient or their family. We've seen situations where tests were ordered but never reviewed, and never communicated to the patient. These tragic failures of patient safety rules have resulted in terrible injuries to our clients.

2. Doctors Not Evaluating the Patient

When you are in the hospital for an issue, the doctor should be performing a differential diagnosis, which will help prevent misdiagnosis. If your condition is properly diagnosed, the doctor should be checking on your and your progress, speaking with other doctors and specialists, and talking with your primary care physician. It's the job of the doctor to evaluate you; this should not be left to inexperienced interns and first-year residents.

3. Hospitals, Doctors, HMOs Not Telling the Patient About Alternative Diagnoses, Treatment, and Therapies

The doctor and staff should always be discussing different diagnosis, treatment, and therapy options with you so you can make the best decisions for you you and your family. Although the doctors have the expertise, they shouldn't get the only say in how you move forward with your care. They should be providing the options for you, especially when it comes to complex and high-risk medical care, like deciding whether or not to amputate a limb.

4. The Doctors Aren't Asking Questions, Reviewing Your Medical Records, Or Listening To You

Too many doctors are rushed and moving from patient to patient too quickly. Especially emergency room doctors. Your doctor should be taking the time to ask you questions, should be reviewing your medical records, and have a working knowledge of your medical history. It takes time to do all of this but the stakes are so high if it doesn't get done. We've seen catastrophic injuries in a hospital happen far too often because process is rushed.

5. The Doctors Are Inexperienced

Nobody wants an inexperienced doctor. Yet, teaching hospitals have inexperienced doctors doing the work of seasoned doctors all the time. If you find yourself being treated by an intern, medical student, you can request a change or to speak with the senior physician to make sure you are being treated properly. You can be your own advocate when you are in the hospital.

6. The Doctors Aren't Consulting A Specialist

If your condition doesn't fall into any simple category that an internist deals with, you should be seen by a specialist. Some conditions, like deep vein thrombosis (DVT) do not fall into the "wait and see" category. If you wait too long to get treated, the condition can very easily be fatal. Your treating doctors should be consulting with specialists to guide your treatment. 

If You Believe You Are A Victim Of Medical Malpractice, Contact Our Experienced D.C. Attorneys Today

The first thing to do if you suspect you or a loved one have been a victim of medical malpractice is request your medical records. If you wait too long, medical records can get lost, take too long to receive, etc and any lawyer who reviews  your case will need to see the medical records. And a conversation with our experienced medical malpractice lawyer can take place for no cost or obligation. If you are dealing with a catastrophic injury we will make sure you speak to a lawyer the very same day - and if we take your case we don't make anything unless we win. 

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer