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Physician Communication Could Be The Key To Preventing Medical Malpractice

Posted on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

The number of medical malpractice cases are rising by the minute across the United States. This poses the question: are doctors becoming more careless, or is the public becoming more knowledgeable about legal action? According to the Medical Malpractice Center, there are between 15,000-19,000 medical malpractice suits filed against doctors every year.

Doctors, hospitals and other healthcare professionals have certain standards of care they are expected to provide for their patients. The doctor is held legally responsible for the patient’s pain or injuries if they stray from the quality of care that is normally expected of them to provide for their patients; this is when legal action ensues. Some pain is expected from a surgery or certain procedures, but pain caused by negligence is unacceptable.

Doctors Aren’t Miracle Workers, Nor Should They Try To Be

People typically trust what their doctor says, whether it’s good news or bad. However, many medical malpractice cases stem from a patient feeling like their doctor kept them in the dark. Whether it’s a slim chance of survival, unpleasant diagnosis, or severe risks associated with a surgery, the doctor has a duty to their patient to sit down and thoroughly explain each and every detail. Everyone that rallies around the patient rejoices when there is a miraculous recovery, but when the diagnosis is less than hopeful, doctors can’t be afraid to deliver the bad news. “Even to the present day, some doctors lie to patients to spare them the pain of bad news or to protect the doctor from the consequences of being the bearer of that bad news,” admits Joel Zivot, associate professor of anesthesiology and surgery at Emory University School of Medicine. In a recent article in USA TODAY, Zivot encourages medical professionals not to succumb to pressure to be a heroic miracle worker, but rather deliver bad news with compassion and spend time with the family or patient as they absorb their grief.

“The vast majority of clients I meet really just want answers,” adds Coker Law medical malpractice attorney Lindsay Tygart.
“Whether it’s the client who had something go wrong during surgery and no one told them it was a known risk, or it’s the grieving family who lost a loved one and no doctor told them why, or explained the details leading up to their death.”

5 Things Patients Can Do To Protect Themselves Against Medical Malpractice

  • Communicate: Maintain a healthy patient-doctor relationship with your doctor. Clear and effective communication with one another is the key to making sure you get the best care possible. Make your expectations clear and understand what they expect from you as their patient.
  • Stay up-to-date on current standards: Educate yourself on the standards that your doctor should be following. In Florida, the standard of care expected by a doctor is measured against what other doctors in similar situations would do. If the actions of your doctor are questionable, then think about other physicians or health care providers you’ve encountered in the past and ask yourself if they would behave the same way.
  • Listen: In the wake of agonizing pain or time-consuming treatments, it’s hard to remember all the details. Make sure a reliable family member or friend is in the room with you while you discuss details with your doctor, so you have another set of ears.
  • Gather information: When it seems like a never-ending stream of information is hitting you, it’s hard to retain it. If your doctor is discussing a certain disease or surgery, then ask if they can put the diagnosis, steps of the procedure, or details of the treatment plan in writing.
  • Ask questions: The most important aspect of meeting with your doctor is asking questions. You need to be thoroughly informed on your situation and how the doctor plans to proceed with treatment. You have the right to ask about anything and everything. It’s better to know now, then to worry about the unknown later.

“Many of these families I meet just want to understand what happened and why,“ said Tygart of her medical malpractice clients. “If the physician would just take the time to explain the circumstances and answer the family’s questions, I truly believe fewer of these families would be sitting in my office.”

Coker Law Can Help You

The medical malpractice trial attorneys at Coker Law know that serious injuries related to medical malpractice can be devastating, and that financial losses due to such injuries can be a catastrophic blow to any family. Our goal is to obtain prompt, just and fair compensation for all of our clients’ losses.  If you suspect that you or someone you love has been a victim of negligent medical care, contact Coker Law at (904) 356-6071 or click here to schedule a consultation.