Injury Resource Center of Michigan
The National Institutes of Health recently estimated that medical errors account for nearly 251,000 deaths each year in the U.S. That’s about 700 deaths per day. Another important statistic published by John’s Hopkins Medicine is 10% of all deaths in the U.S. are due to medical error, making medical error the third leading cause of death in the country. A number of preventable deaths occur in hospitals where patients are the victims of inappropriate decisions when appropriate medical alternatives are available. One published study that focused on medical errors found that three conditions; heart attack, pneumonia and stroke are responsible for a number of deaths in hospitals, deaths that could have been prevented. Infections are the cause of thousands of deaths in hospitals because, according to CDC experts, “many hospital personnel fail to follow basic infection control, such as hand washing between patient contacts.” Even if a medical error does not result in a fatality, a patient may suffer serious or permanent damage, such as amputation, disfigurement, paralysis or brain injury.
Physicians may fail to properly diagnose cancer, heart attacks and other serious illnesses. Early diagnosis of these conditions is important since timely detection can be a matter of life of death. Medication errors in prescribing or taking a drug are surprisingly common and can result in serious harm to an individual. But there are steps, outlined below, that you can take to avoid being the victim of a medication error. If you, a friend or loved one has been the victim of medical or hospital error, you need to talk with an experienced Michigan malpractice lawyer at The Law Offices of Henry M. Hanflik. For a free case evaluation, please complete the online form or call 1 (888) 905-4632.
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What You Should Know About Medical Malpractice
Q: What is medical malpractice?
A: Medical Malpractice can arise in two general situations:
- Either the failure to do something which a medical professional or hospital of ordinary learning, judgment, or skill in your community, would do; or
- The doing of something which a medical professional or hospital of ordinary learning, judgment, or skill in your community, would not do under the same or similar circumstances.
Q: I suspect that my doctor, hospital or clinic committed a malpractice, but I am not sure. How can I find out?
A: One way is to consult a malpractice lawyer, whose knowledge of the law, experience in the field, and ready access to medical experts can help determine whether you have grounds for a malpractice claim.
Q: What do I do when I decide to make a malpractice claim?
A: Provide your lawyer with all the facts in the case and all the relevant documents in your possession, including the notes you made after each visit to or telephone conversation with your doctor. Answer all of your lawyer’s questions honestly and to the best of your ability. Do not slant or embellish the facts.
Q: How can I avoid being the victim of a medication error?*
PERSONAL and HOME CARE
- Maintain a list of prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs and other products, such as vitamins and minerals you are taking.
- Take this list with your whenever you visit a health care provider and have him or her review it.
- Be aware of where to find educational material related to your medication(s) in the local community and at reliable websites.
- Make sure the name of the drug (brand or generic) and the directions for use, received at the pharmacy, are the same as that written down by the prescriber.
- Know that you can review your list of medications with the pharmacist for additional safety. You can ask your pharmacist to explain how to properly take the drug, the side effects of the drug and what to do if you experience side effects (just as you did you prescriber).
- Ask for written information about the medication.
AMBULATORY CARE / OUT PATIENT CLINIC
- Have the prescriber write down the name of the drug (brand and generic, if available), what it is for, its dosage, and how often to take it, or provide other written material with this information.
- Have the prescriber explain how to use the drug properly.
- Ask about the drug’s side effects and what to do if you experience any side effects.
HOSPITAL INPATIENT CARE
- Ask the doctor or nurse what drugs you are being given at the hospital.
- Do not take a drug without being told the purpose for doing so.
- Exercise your right to have a surrogate present whenever you are receiving medication and are unable to monitor the medication-use process yourself.
- Prior to surgery, ask whether there are medications, especially prescription antibiotics, that you should take or any that you should stop taking preoperatively.
- Prior to discharge, ask for the list of medications that you should be taking at home, have a provider review them with you and be sure you understand how these medications should be taken.
*Source: Committee for Identifying and Preventing Medication Errors, Institute of Michigan