You may not be aware, but medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., only surpassed by heart disease and cancer. Recently, the Huffington Post published an article which outlined some general steps that you can take to prevent becoming a victim of medical malpractice. Some of these recommendations include:
- Be your own advocate. No one knows you better than you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and request explanations. You have a right to know what medical professionals are doing, or proposing to do, to your body, and why.
- Have someone you trust with you to be your second set of eyes and ears when you have a conversation with your doctor. It can be difficult to absorb what a physician is telling you, particularly if you have just received some upsetting news. In addition, the other person may think of questions which you might have otherwise missed or forgotten. Having another person with you insures that both you and your doctor are on the same page.
- Do your own research. The internet has at least somewhat leveled the playing field between physicians and patients in this regard. Be familiar with your health problems and know the various alternatives for treating them. This will allow you to be better informed and to ask better questions when you meet with your doctor. You and your doctor are a partnership and making an informed decision about your treatment is important for both of you.
- Get a second opinion. Obviously, this isn’t always necessary, but if you have some doubt with regard to a diagnosis or a plan of treatment, it is a good idea to see another physician. You will then be in a better position to make an informed decision about your care.
- Have a living will and a power of attorney. If you become incapacitated or unable to speak for yourself, a living will instructs your healthcare providers on what measures you do and don’t want taken. A power of attorney permits a person to act on your behalf and make medical decisions for you when you are incapacitated. Both living wills and power of attorney forms can be downloaded from the internet and completed without an attorney.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. It may sound obvious, but staying healthy and out of hospitals means you are less likely to become a victim of malpractice. Eating right, exercising, and taking your prescribed medications can prevent many diseases and lessen the effects of many others. Chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease can be controlled with diet, exercise, and medication. Even further, people with these diseases can and do lead active healthy lifestyles that simply require a little more work and diligence.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Stark & Stark handle a wide variety of medical malpractice claims. If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice, or if you have questions about medical malpractice, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Stark & Stark.