…And Did My Doctor Commit It?
Two articles recently came across our news feed and captured our attention. The first is titled: Steps for Preventing Medical Malpractice Risks and it comes from a publication called Health IT Consultant. The second article is titled 10 Ways to Avoid Medical Malpractice from MedSource Consultants.
Both online journals are written to audiences made up of medical professionals, and both articles address the serious peril of being a doctor or health care provider accused of medical malpractice and facing the aggressive medical malpractice representation that our firm is known to provide our clients.
Perusing these two articles, we discovered simple, general approaches to the profession of medicine that frankly we wish all doctors would simply pay closer attention to. The articles each provide a list of to-dos that doctors would be well advised to incorporate into their medical practice.
Simply adhering to these lists of guidelines would surely not only keep doctors and other medical professionals out of the sites of serious medical malpractice law firms such as Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C., but would likely improve their patient outcomes across the board.
How Can Doctors Avoid What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
When someone becomes a doctor, they have been trained for the enormous responsibility that comes along with practicing the profession of preserving life and sometimes risking death. However, doctors are human with all the human weaknesses that anyone else has. Even at their best, doctors are not immune to fatique, mistakes, avoidance, hurry, and absent-mindedness. Like all of us, doctors can make mistakes.
The following suggestions gleaned from the two articles mentioned earlier might serve as good reminders to medical care providers. Some printed version should hang in every doctor’s office around the world.
Honor the Patient-Caregiver Relationship
Treating patients with respect during all interactions is the foundation to a good doctor-patient relationship. A patient in an examination room with a doctor is sensitive to a doctor’s engagement or, conversely, a doctor’s negligence. The quality of a doctor’s attentiveness to questions related to a patient’s injury or condition establish the trust that is so important to good outcomes.
Our clients often tell us stories of medical negligence that began at early stages of treatment. This perceived negligence resulted in the patient not feeling “heard.” They often describe a doctor who was rushed, aloof or distracted.
Practice Transparency and Consistency
Effective communication builds upon the foundation of trust established in the previous section. As a medical professional asks questions or suggests treatments, tests a patient is almost always going to have questions, require clarification, reassurance or possibly precise instruction.
An effective medical professional will not expect that a patient must show confusion; he or she will anticipate questions or concerns. She will go the extra step to explain everything and one further by always asking if the patient has any questions.
We often hear from our patients that they weren’t offered choices in their treatment with the pros and cons of each option explained clearly. We hear that they were offered meds without explanation about why they were being treated. We hear that there was a breakdown in communications that might have seemed insignificant at the time, but that led to mistakes that change lives.
Effective Doctors Put it In Writing
Documentation is important for most complex processes. Documentation serves several purposes: it provides both doctors and patients (thanks to electronic medical records) the opportunity to review discussions, questions, suggestions and observations that occur throughout a patient’s medical journey. It serves as a backup to our own fallible memories.
Secondly, thorough documentation is an indicator of providing the required standard of care that is expected from medical professionals. Proper, thorough notes recorded throughout a medical interaction are a sign of a thorough, thoughtful medical professional.
As medical malpractice attorneys, examination of medical records and a physician’s notes are one of the first places we look when considering whether a medical professional issued improper treatment before we file a medical malpractice claim. While improperly kept notes and documentation are themselves alone not enough to prove medical malpractice, they are often an indicator of sloppy procedure.
Good Doctors Stay Current and Ask For Help
Medicine is an ever-changing field. The most effective medical professionals understand that they must never be finished learning and improving. Understanding new markers of disease, procedures and studies serve prevent a doctor from failure to diagnose a disease when it is still treatable.
Medicine demands proficiency tempered with humility of knowing that there is always more to learn whether from the patient, from peers or from the greater medical community. A medical professional who is always exploring, evaluating and implementing new information as appropriate tends to be guided by a general openness that is exhibited in asking more and better questions and gathering better facts.
Many medical malpractice cases are built around medical professionals who are generally closed off to other opinions, to new information and to surrounding oneself with a team of peers who might have acted as a sounding board.
Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C. Help You Heal
We wish every medical professional would heed the good advice suggested in this and the other articles we mentioned above. By becoming ever-mindful of communication, careful documentation and a hunger to learn more and better ways of healing, doctors and other medical professionals can minimize the chance of small oversights becoming catastrophic medical mistakes. Sadly, however, mistakes will continue to happen due to a wide range of factors.
There are many causes of medical malpractice and every medical malpractice lawsuit is different from every other. But Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C. pride ourselves in our ability to think like doctors. Our team knows the telltale signs of where mistakes originate. If, upon reviewing your case, we detect that your medical provider was negligent we’ll file a lawsuit to ensure that you and your family are made whole. Only then, can the healing truly begin.
If you’re in the St Louis Metro East or Southern Illinois and are searching for the best medical attorneys near me, make the call to Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C. at: