Sometimes people forget that doctors are also human beings. As such, doctors will make mistakes from time to time. Many of us never really consider that possibility given all of the high-level training that doctors must complete before they are ever allowed to directly deal with patients. For most of us, our medical care experiences have all been positive as well, which only reinforces the notion that doctors do not make mistakes and that we should simply listen to them and not question them. Unfortunately, many people pay a heavy price for having that attitude.
Recently, a report ran on WSFA TV in Alabama that detailed some of the problems relating to medical malpractice across the United States. The report provided some shocking statistics and it also provided some very useful advice for people who receive medical care in hopes of helping them avoid becoming part of some very troubling data. It is reports like these that can make a difference in the lives of people simply by helping to shape and change their perspectives a bit and to helping them remember that, once again, doctors are human and they will make mistakes.
The statistic in the report that was the most surprising was the citation from a study that was done by the Institute of Medicine. That study stated that anywhere between 44,000 and 98,000 people in the United States are killed every year as a result of medical mistakes. The original text for this study can be found here. If one were to take the high end of that range and place it in the rankings for leading causes of death in the United States, this is how it would look:
- Heart disease – 650,000
- Cancer – 550,000
- Stroke – 140,000
- Lower respiratory disease – 130,000
- Accidental death from injury – 117,000
Death by medical mistake would come in next on this rankings list ahead of conditions including diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.
Clearly, this is a serious problem and one that needs to be addressed. Addressing this issue actually starts with individual patients. The WSFA report included some example questions that patients should ask doctors that were provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. These questions include:
- How many times have you done this procedure?
- What are the possible complications?
- How do you spell the name of that drug?
- Will this medicine interact with medicines that I’m already taking?
Overall, you should not feel intimidated by asking questions of your doctor. He or she may have much more medical training than you do, but you have spent a lot more time inside of your body than your doctor, which means that you are just as qualified to talk about your health as he or she is.
We are not encouraging people to be paranoid about the quality of care that they are receiving. For the most part, that quality of care is extremely high. We are saying that you should make sure that you feel involved in the process. If you are the victim of a mistake, you should contact the New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Fitzgerald Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation.