By: Donna Devita
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Choosing a Doctor
In 2016, a jury found Dr. Marsel Huribal, Southern Connecticut Vascular Center, and Griffen Hospital negligent in mistreating an 18-year-old patient who lost a leg due to a blood clot. The negligence suit stated that the undetected blood clot leading to the patient losing her leg could have been diagnosed with a test- a test that the doctor and hospital staff all failed to do.
Doctors Are Not All Good
Did the doctor and vascular center have a history of misdiagnosing patients? Has the doctor ever had negligence complaints filed against him before? Did the doctor refer the patient to appropriate specialists that could have properly diagnosed the blood clot? These are all vital questions that possibly could have prevented a catastrophic loss if the patient or family had known they needed to ask them before an emergency occurred. Unfortunately, doctors are given a level of trust simply because they are doctors, and patient health is suffering from it all over the country.
How NOT To Choose a Doctor
When it comes to choosing a doctor, patients have more control over their care than they think. Not all doctors are as qualified as others and a number of patients are choosing their doctors using ineffective methods that could be putting their own health at risk. XpertDox lists the five most common mistakes patients are making when choosing a physician for their care:
- Relying to highly on websites that rate doctors.
- Choosing physicians based on friends and family recommendations.
- Not looking into or understand board certifications.
- Not looking into doctor specialties
- Misunderstanding that doctors work with teams.
The most important skill a patient can learn before choosing a doctor is to know what to look for. Identifying certain red flags in a doctor’s history and getting answers to important health questions are crucial tasks patients need to complete before handing over their healthcare to any physician.
Medical Malpractice History
A history of medical errors or medical malpractice suits can be a significant indicator that a doctor may not be the right choice for you. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States according to a John Hopkins study, taking the lives of over 250,000 patients every year.
The most common errors causing serious illnesses, injuries, and death to patients include:
- Unnecessary treatments
- Unnecessary tests and proceeders
- Medication mistakes
- Uncoordinated care
- Unplanned events
- Hospital infections
- Missed warning signs
- Accidental events that could be prevented
- Early discharges
When a doctor has been sued for medical malpractice, there are a number of ways patients can find out. In an article posted by Forbes, experts recommend patients look resources such as their State Department of Health Services, the Federation of State Medical Boards, court records, and even Google web searches to identify any malpractice history for a physician that could affect your quality of care.
Lack of Board Certifications
When you are looking for a doctor, you want to make sure they are certified in a specialty that benefits your health. Board certifications should not be downplayed by patients when they are choosing a doctor as not all doctors are skilled enough to pass and maintain these credentials.
Certification Matters describes physicians who are board certified as:
- Skilled and knowledgeable
- Meeting higher standards of care
- Experts in their specialties
Any doctor can claim they are board certified- that doesn’t make it true. Patients should always double check, particularly when seeing a specialty physician, to ensure the doctor is truly certified in the specialty they are practicing in. Using websites such as the American Board of Internal Medicine can help patients confirm active certifications and rule out any physicians who are not being truthful about their abilities.
Asking The Right Questions
Patients should never choose a doctor without asking a number of questions. Doctors generally care deeply about their patient’s health, but no one puts your health at a higher priority level than you. Asking questions can easily rule out doctors who may not be a good fit for your care before putting your health at serious risk.
eMedCert advises patients to ask the following questions before choosing any type of doctor for your care:
- What is your specialty?
- Where did you go to medical school?
- How long have you been practicing?
- What type of patient-physician relationships do you promote?
- What type of emergency services do you provide?
- What medical centers or hospitals are you associated with?
- How do you choose your referrals?
- What are your office hours?
- Can I schedule same day appointments?
- What type of group practice are you in?
There are a number of other questions patients are encouraged to ask that can be done so directly with the physician, nurses, staff, or even by reaching out to the community to talk to current patients about their experience with the doctor and the practice.
Never Settle For Medical Negligence
Patients should never have to settle for doctors with a history of medical negligence. Connecticut residents have a right to quality healthcare. Though they have the ability to advocate for their own health and safety, they shouldn’t always have to. If you or a loved one has suffered an illness or serious injury due to the medical negligence of a physician, you could be eligible for compensation for your losses. Our expert team of medical malpractice attorneys at Jacobs & Wallace is ready to fight back for your right to safe healthcare. Contact us for a free case consultation to begin exploring your options for justice.