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: Unnecessary Surgery
Every surgery comes with risks of the procedure, ranging from postoperative infection to even stroke or death. Patients consent to the surgery despite these risks because they trust that the doctor has concluded that surgery is the best option. The doctor is required to sit with you and have a meaningful discussion about your options. Doctors need to discuss with you all the reasonable, viable alternatives, including the benefits and possible complications of those alternatives.
But a surgeon’s job is to do surgeries, and sometimes they recommend a surgery that isn’t in the patient’s best interest when weighed against other options that could in fact be better overall. Of the estimated 48 million surgical procedures performed each year in the United States, a jaw-dropping 7.5 million are performed unnecessarily. Not only could the surgery be unnecessary, but surgery causes stress and recovery processes often require lengthy physical therapy. You may also miss time from work and be unable to engage in your usual day-to-day activities.
What can you do to protect yourself from an unnecessary surgery?
Often, there is a rush to surgery once a diagnosis is made, but you also need to know if there are potential complications which give rise to options beyond surgery. As always, we strongly recommend taking charge of your own health to prevent things like this from happening.
That is why it’s best to have an advocate with you at the doctor’s appointments who can ask the right questions. You might be overwhelmed, and your advocate can ask questions about the risks and benefits of surgery. Advocates can take notes and retain more of the information. It is also vital to ask about surgical alternatives and what would happen if you didn’t have the surgery. If the situation is not critical, seek out a second opinion to confirm that surgery is the best option for you.
Unnecessary surgery is a serious kind of medical negligence. If your surgery went poorly and you discovered afterwards that the operation could have been avoided, you need an experienced medical malpractice attorney. To contact our team at Scartelli Olszewski for a free case consultation, call us at 570-346-2600 or 570-822-1400.