Because our elderly are the greatest consumers of medical care – they are also the most susceptible to medical errors and medical malpractice. One in seven Medicare beneficiaries are harmed during their care, according to a recent U.S. Senate hearing on the subject. According to the same testimony, one in four senior citizens will also be discharged from a hospital to a nursing home, only to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days – and half of those readmissions are avoidable.
During this same hearing – the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety cited a 2010 federal report that indicated preventable mistakes likely caused the deaths of as many as 950 Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut hospitals. The same report estimated that 22,000 likely got an infection while they were being treated.
It is an undisputed fact that medical error and medical malpractice is at least the third leading killer in the United States. Improperly prescribed medications, serious surgical errors, avoidable drug interactions, neglect of patients, exposure to infectious agents, and a myriad of other factors all contribute to cause harm.
So what can be done?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes these suggestions to help you avoid medical malpractice and medical errors:
Make sure that all of your doctors know about every medicine you or your loved one are taking. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements, such as vitamins and herbs. Learn about each drug and it’s possible effects and always ask your doctor and your pharmacist about possible dangers. And when you doctor writes a prescription – make sure you can read it. If you cannot read your doctor’s handwriting, your pharmacist might not be able to either. Finally – when you pick up your medicine from the pharmacy, ask: Is this the medicine that my doctor prescribed?
If you are in a hospital, don’t be afraid to ask those working with you whether they have washed their hands. Handwashing prevents the spread of infections in hospitals. And when you are being discharged from the hospital, ask your doctor to explain the treatment plan you will follow at home. This includes learning about your new medicines, making sure you know when to schedule follow-up appointments, and finding out when you can get back to your regular activities.
If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done. Always choose a surgeon and a hospital that has vast experience with the surgery you require.
Speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone and everyone involved with your care.
If you are ever the victim of medical malpractice call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help to ensure that your rights are protected.
For more than 60 years, the medical malpractice lawyers at RisCassi and Davis have been working hard to protect our clients. What’s more, all of our attorneys have been honored by inclusion in the 2012 New England Super Lawyers and Rising Stars… and the Hartford law firm of RisCassi and Davis is “Top Listed” in the 2012 edition of The Best Lawyers in America® with the most listed attorneys representing injury victims in personal injury law in Hartford. The firm is also ranked a Tier 1 law firm in Hartford in Personal Injury Litigation – Plaintiffs by U.S. News-Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms.” We have a great team dedicated to medical malpractice cases.
Please call us if we can help you.