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3 ways to protect yourself against medical malpractice

Medical malpractice is more common than many people think. All too often, people imagine that medical malpractice is limited to rural hospitals or to doctors who went to questionable medical schools.

The truth is that any medical professional can commit an act of malpractice, even those who went to the best schools or that work in the most impressive hospitals. As somebody who will eventually need medical care for one reason or another, it's important that you understand how to limit the biggest risks for medical malpractice.

Don't let your doctor ignore your symptoms

Recent studies have shown that the average doctor listens to a patient for as little as 11 seconds before interrupting. The problem is that while doctors may know more about medicine, patients know more about their symptoms. Doctors who interrupt patients may not get the full story, and that could lead to a failure to properly diagnose a condition.

While you want to be respectful of your doctor, make sure that you adequately communicate your symptoms and why you are seeking their help. If your doctor chooses to interrupt or ignore you, you may need to request a second opinion.

It may also be worth bringing this issue to the attention of the practice manager at the office or hospital where your doctor works. Patient care should come before profits, and when it doesn't, patients should have the right to stand up for themselves.

Make sure there are safeguards in place before any surgery

Surgical errors still happen frequently in the United States. Sometimes, doctors operate on the wrong part of the body. Other times, a doctor may perform the wrong procedure on the wrong patient. Foreign objects even get left inside patients' bodies, creating a risk of injury or a serious infection.

The best way to make sure that this does not happen to you is to ask what safeguard practices the facility has in place. For example, some operating rooms may have a staff member there whose sole job is to maintain an accurate record of every tool used, down to the smallest piece of gauze. This helps ensure that there is nothing left inside your incision. Other hospitals may have a patient double check and confirm the location of the surgery before going under anesthesia.

Always check your medication, even when you are impatient

Medication errors can cause all kinds of problems. Not getting the medicine you need could impact the health condition you are in the hospital for. Getting the wrong medication could cause a host of issues, from drug interactions to an allergic reaction.

While you want to be respectful of the people administering medication in the hospital, always verify which drugs you have before you take them. This is the best way to ensure that you do not fall victim to a medication error.

Patients should be proactive about protecting their own health. However, you are not responsible for the mistakes made by medical professionals. If you wind up injured due to a medication error, a failure to diagnose or a surgical mistake, you need to look into your rights to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

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