Stopping medical malpractice- how patients can help – Part 2

 

(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.

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an MRI of the human brain

an MRI of the human brain

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.

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Stopping medical malpractice- how patients can help – Part 3

(previously posted under the title 6 reasons to sue your doctor-and how not to-part 3)

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 avoid getting care that makes you want to sue .

3. FAILURE TO KEEP CURRENT WITH STANDARDS AND KNOWLEDGE 

You can’t control  your doctor’s training, CME (continuing medical education), and certifications. But you have a right and responsibility to confirm that the doctor is qualified to perform the services offered. Doctors’ offices have diplomas, licenses, awards displayed on the walls for a reason-they want you to look at them.  Hospitals and other health care facilities make sure  that  the  physicians have the appropriate credentials.  Social media expert Kevin Pho, M.D. explains  how to check out a doctor’s credentials online-

Finding a doctor online and researching your physician on the Internet

Physicians can attend live lectures, watch or listen to lectures online and even view CME activities on a smart phone or other hand held device.

Physicians can attend live lectures, watch or listen to lectures online and even view CME activities on a smart phone or other hand held device.

Physicians must have a license for every state where they practice. Most physicians in the United States are board certified .which shows competency in their specialty. They take  a written and sometimes oral exam  and perform the requirements for MOC- maintenance of certification – medical study through lectures, reading, chart reviews and interactive online activities and repeat testing every few years.

Some physicians question the value of MOC. We agree with the idea in principle but believe the current requirements are irrelevant ,expensive, and time consuming without adding anything to knowledge, skill or improved patient care.  A few quit MOC completely and let their certification lapse, or join an alternate board which has less complicated requirements.  I will remain certified by the American Board of Family Medicine but the process needs to be relevant and valuable.

Learn more about certification in Family Medicine and if your family physician is board certified at the website of the American Board of Family Medicine