In this series we show you the importance of being your own advocate when it comes to your health and the many ways you can prevent common medical errors.

Why should you take charge?

Medical errors are considered the third leading cause of death in the United States. The American Association for Justice estimates that 440,000 errors resulting in death occur each year. We’ve learned a thing or two after handling medical malpractice cases for more than 30 years. We’ve learned that while medicine is complex, errors often can be prevented in simple, common sense ways. When you take charge of your own medical information you can actually decrease the odds it will happen to you.

Advocacy Series Highlight: Informed Consent

As we’ve said many times, whenever you have a medical problem, you have to be your own advocate. Ask plenty of questions and be engaged in the process of finding treatment that works for you. When you receive treatments like medication or surgery, you need to understand the process and the risks, and what other options you have.

Informed consent is especially important and multi-faceted when it comes to surgery. Not only do you need to know how the procedure is performed, but you also need to know the viable alternatives to surgery. If you choose surgery, you need to know the risks and what to expect in recovery. Needing surgery is a nerve-wracking thing for a lot of people, and doctors may downplay the risks and recovery time. It is always a good idea to bring someone with you when you discuss surgery with your doctor. Understanding the nature of the surgery and what to expect post-op will help you prepare ahead of time. We often hear from clients and family members that recovery was harder than they anticipated, and they wished they’d known upfront what to expect.

Discharge papers don’t always give you all the care instructions that you need, so be sure to ask questions about what to expect in recovery, such as:

  • How long should I expect to be sore?
  • How much time should I take off work?
  • When will I be able to drive?
  • What does post-op gas pain feel like? What do I do if I feel it?
  • Will I be able to do things for myself like bathe and cook?
  • How do I treat my pain during the recovery?
  • Is it okay for me to eat normally and take my regular medications?

Visit our blog to learn more about how to be your own advocate. If you or a loved one is the victim of medical negligence, call our office today.