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Ask the Doctor Questions!

Our firm spends a great deal of time doing medical malpractice cases involving things like surgical errors, delay in diagnosing cancer, birth injuries, etc., so it is only natural that clients and friends often ask us, "What can I do to prevent being a victim of malpractice?" Our answer to them is always the same: "Ask the doctor questions!"

Time and time again we have found that medical errors happen because the doctor forgets something simple about the patient’s situation is unaware of the type of treatment that another doctor is giving a patient.

Unfortunately, many times people are afraid to ask doctors questions, either because they feel stupid or they are intimidated by the doctor’s white coat and impressive credentials. Do not fall prey to that because it may come back to haunt you.

For example, if a doctor ordered blood work or did a test on you, always make sure that you call the doctor’s office to get the result. Do not assume that the office will call you if the test is abnormal because that does not always happen. We have had many cases where patients had abnormal test results that needed follow-up, but the doctor simply forgot to look at the test results! Sad, but true.

Here is another example. A doctor may order a new medication that could cause a dangerous interaction with some other drug you had been taking for years. Is the doctor aware that you are on the other drug? Make sure by telling him.

How about this situation. You have a loved one who is in the hospital and there are three different doctors who are "making rounds" on the patient. One doctor comes in and says something about your loved one’s case, but it sounds completely different from what an earlier doctor said just one day before. It is possible that these two doctors have never spoken to each other, although they should have, so speak up and tell the second doctor what the first one said.

This habit of asking questions does not extend just to doctors but also to places like pharmacies. If you get a regular prescription and one day the pill appears to be of a different size or color than what you are used to, call the pharmacy and ask questions before you take the medication. We have had more than one situation where a medication error occurred due to an improper drug or wrong dosage being dispensed by the pharmacy.

There is nothing more precious than the good health of you and those in your family, so don’t feel like you are imposing on the doctor or insulting him/her by asking questions. You have a right to know!

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