When you visit a physician or health professional, you expect top-notch care. You’re ill, you have symptoms that have affected your health, and you want answers; the right answers that will lead you on the road to recovery. A knowledgeable doctor and staff will help, but sometimes that doesn’t always occur.
There was the case in California where a female patient had the wrong ovary removed. In another, a Pennsylvania surgeon removed the wrong testicle of a patient. And in Minnesota, a man with a torn heart valve was informed he had acid reflux and told to buy an over-the-counter antacid.
These are cases that have or could have led to medical malpractice lawsuits. Medical malpractice may be more common than you think. Deaths due to medical negligence, improper care due to incompetence are some of the complaints that have surfaced against health professionals.
The National Practitioner Data Bank, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, collects data on medical malpractice payouts for U.S. physicians and licensed health care practitioners. Since the data base was opened in 1990, roughly 1.25 million doctors have practiced in the country. During that time, about 192,000 or 15 percent have had at least one malpractice payout.
When and how to take action
Filing a complaint against a physician is a serious matter. Here is how and when you should consider doing so, and the actions to take:
- Recognizing the need to take action
- Consider contacting police and a lawyer
- Contact your state board
- Gather all records – medical and supporting documents
Qualities of a good medical practice
How do you ensure that you get great health care from a solid team of medical professionals? What makes for a great doctor? The Peterson Center on Healthcare and researchers at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center collected data from 15,000 primary care practices, and found that the most successful ones had these qualities:
- Extended hours
- Two-way communication
- Careful about over-treating
- Open to complaints
- A fair workplace
- Spend wisely
- One-stop shopping
- Like-minded specialists, and only as needed
- A team approach
You want to make sure you get the proper health care that you need, and that includes being confident with the health care staff treating you and your family. This is one way that you will likely avoid situations involving medical malpractice.