(previously posted under the title 6 reasons to sue your doctor-and how not to-part 2)
In the article, “YOU’VE BEEN SUED FOR MALPRACTICE-NOW WHAT?” (Medical Economics, March 10, 2015) attorney Richard Baker offers 6 common reasons for malpractice lawsuits, and what physicians can do to prevent them. In this series I look at them from the patient viewpoint- what you can do to avoid getting care that makes you want to sue .
4.INADEQUATE FOLLOW-UP OF DIAGNOSTIC TESTS AND SPECIALIST REFERRALS
Physicians must report results of lab tests, x-rays, and other diagnostic studies directly to patients, without exception.
Make sure your doctor’s office has your current contact information-address, phone, and email.
Ask the office staff how results will be reported-by mail, phone, or through a patient portal.
Access your medical records using a secure patient online portal if available.
Don’t assume that “everything must be normal” just because you haven’t heard or read otherwise.
Reports from specialists may be handled differently, depending on whether your doctor refers you for a consultation or refers you for ongoing care. Find out what you should expect from both doctors’ offices.
5. IRREGULAR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
No matter how careful hiring policies are , incompetent, unscrupulous and dishonest employees get into the healthcare system undetected. This is bad for any industry, but in healthcare is dangerous and even deadly.
One day I was seeing patients when a pharmacist called saying she took a phoned in prescription for a narcotic pain medicine earlier that day and wanted to confirm . But no one from my office had called her. A former employee had been using my name and my DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) registration number to call narcotic prescriptions for herself and an accomplice to multiple pharmacies for several weeks. I recently read an article in a major magazine about an x-ray tech who worked at multiple hospitals where he stole IV narcotic pain medication for himself, and infected multiple patients with hepatitis C from his used syringes. He is now serving life in prison.
If you notice something out of line in a medical office or hospital, or if the care is not as expected, don’t hesitate to report it to someone in authority. You can do this anonymously, although the more specific information you provide, the more likely the situation can be corrected .Even if nothing proves to be wrong, it will give them helpful feedback about their service.