The World Health Organization (WHO) defines patient safety as “the absence of preventable harm to a patient during the process of health care.” And, yet, one in 10 hospitalized patients in developed countries are adversely or erroneously harmed at the hands of medical professionals every day. This includes surgical mistakes, infections from improper hand-sanitization of medical care providers or contaminated surfaces, administering the wrong blood-type or contra-indicated medications, or failure to properly monitor a mother in labor and her baby.
Asking good questions can help you avoid being the victim of medical malpractice:
- Is your practice affiliated with a health care system?
Look for a primary care provider whose practice is closely affiliated with an integrated system of care. You optimize your health care dollars and improve the quality of care, when your physician closely communicates with your other healthcare providers.
- Are medical records retained electronically in your practice?
Electronic health records (EHR) makes your doctor a better doctor. EHR increases his or her level of organization, by placing your medical history at the forefront of each office visit. EHR also prevents the ordering of redundant medical tests, and allows easy access to your records for a second opinion.
- How long have you been practicing medicine?
Doctors are less likely to provide quality care, if they have been practicing many years. Medicine is an evolving science and, if your doctor isn’t keeping up with the latest drugs, tests, and procedures through continuing education and training, if may be time to get a new doctor.
- Are you licensed to practice medicine and board certified in your specialty?
You don’t want a doctor who has lost his (or her) license in another state, or is guilty of Medicaid or Medicare fraud. Check your doctor’s credentials here.
Information and research are fundamental to patient safety. You should never trust a doctor who objects to a second opinion or the review of your medical records by another provider.
If you feel your safety as a patient has been compromised, please contact a licensed attorney experienced in medical malpractice.