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Essential Tips That Can Help Prevent a Medical Mistake


Most people assume that diseases are America's top 20 causes of death. Sadly – there is another big contributor.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA: Vol 284, No 4), an article written by Dr. Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, states that medical errors and medical malpractice may be the third leading cause of death in the United States.

The third leading cause

Medical errors, including medical malpractice, are common in Connecticut – and the mistakes made change people's lives forever.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes several suggestions to help you avoid medical malpractice and medical errors.

Below, we focus on precautions you might consider if you're having a surgical procedure and other important steps one can take to prevent medical malpractice.


• If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon all agree on exactly what will be done. Surgery at the wrong site (for example, operating on the left hip instead of the right) is rare. But even once is too often. The good news is that wrong-site surgery is 100 percent preventable. Surgeons should sign their initials directly on the site to be operated on before the surgery.

• If you have a choice, choose a hospital where many patients have had the procedure or surgery you need. Research shows that patients tend to have better results when treated in hospitals with a great deal of experience with their condition.

Other Steps

• Speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care. Your physicians work for you – not the other way around.

• Make sure that someone, such as your primary care doctor, coordinates your care. This step is essential if you have many health problems or are in the hospital.

• Make sure that all your doctors have your important health information. Never assume that everyone has all the information they need.

• Ask a family member or friend to go to appointments with you. Even if you do not need help now, you might need it later.

• Know that "more" is not always better. Learn why your doctor is recommending a test or treatment and how it can help you. You could be better off without it.

• If you have a test, do not assume that no news is good news. Ask how and when you will get the results.

• Learn about your condition and treatments by asking your doctors and nurses and by using other reliable sources. For example, treatment options based on the latest scientific evidence are available from the Effective Health Care Web site.

And always ask your doctor if your recommended treatment is based on the latest evidence.

Finally – and this is VERY important - nothing in these suggestions relieves your physician from their responsibility to provide you with the best care. Remember, every physician's fundamental duty is to "first – do no harm."

If you or a loved one has been harmed by a misdiagnosis, a medical procedure, a medical device, or a drug, call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer. A knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected.

RisCassi & Davis has handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases over our more than 65 years serving the people of Connecticut.

What's more, our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers have received local and national recognition for our handling of these cases.

We have a great team of legal experts dedicated to protecting consumers in Connecticut. Please contact us if we can help you. The consultation is free, and there is no obligation of any kind.

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