Hospital medical errors are now the 3rd leading cause of death in this country. That statistic makes it hard to ignore the very real risk you face when you go to the hospital. Some of the questions workers comp lawyers, workers compensation attorneys, and work injury lawyer, frequently get have to do with workplace injuries and having to worry about getting quality medical care.
What Is a Hospital Medical Error?
A hospital medical error is an unintentional act, either by omission or commission, that doesn’t achieve its intended outcome. Medical errors include things medical professionals do by mistake or from developing the wrong plan to start with. It can be caused by one doctor, nurse, pharmacist, social worker, or manager. It can also be the result of an entire medical team.
How the Issue of Medical Error Impacts You
Some people avoid going to the doctor until they have to. Men are notorious for avoiding doctor appointments. Failing to get regular checkups and screenings puts anyone at a greater risk of developing a number of health conditions. At least when you go to a doctor regularly, you have the time to research the doctor. You can also ask questions about recommended tests, any findings, and the treatments the doctor recommends. By taking an active role in your health care, it helps eliminate the risk of being a victim of medical error. Building a relationship with your doctor helps, too.
When you are injured in an accident, your options change. This is especially true if you have a serious injury that requires emergency treatment. If you go to the hospital, you will see doctors that you’ve never seen before. If you require surgery, a specialist will perform the surgery. There are also many professionals who do things like take x-rays, apply anesthesia, and give you injections. A medical error can happen anywhere along the way.
If your injury is work-related, the choice to get medical care isn’t really up to you. In order to get workers’ comp to pay for your medical care and your time off from work, you or your work comp lawyer must have a record of your injuries and your treatment. Being injured is terrifying enough. Worrying about the possibility that something will go wrong is even worse. But there are some steps you can take to protect yourself when treatment is a necessity.
Keep a List of Your Medications With You
It’s easy to forget some of the medications you take, especially if it’s a fairly long list. Include supplements and over-the-counter medications you take regularly. It can be dangerous to stop taking some medications. There’s also the potential for drug interactions if you are given something new.
Also, include any allergies to medications on your list. Many medications come in a variety of brands. You might not recognize a drug that you’re allergic to by its name or appearance. Make sure any allergies are marked clearly on your chart.
Ask the doctor the names of any medicines being prescribed. Find out what they are for, and whether they cause any potential side effects. If you pick them up at the pharmacy, make sure they are the same thing you and your doctor discussed. If you are given medications in the hospital, ask about those as well. Make sure you are only getting the medications your doctor intended you to have.
Confirm Your Surgery Plans with Your Doctor and Your Surgeon
Make sure you all have the same plan going into surgery. We’ve all heard horror stories of doctors performing surgery on or removing the wrong limb or organ. It doesn’t happen often, but any possibility is too much. These medical errors are completely preventable. Surgeons are required to sign their initials on the operation site prior to surgery.
Don’t Go to Appointments Alone
Take a friend or relative with you; preferably someone who knows about your injury and your medical treatment. If you are in pain, you’re more likely to overlook things that could make a difference. Having someone else with you can serve as a safety net in case something just doesn’t seem right.
Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions
Patients tend to think of their doctors as being all-knowing and above reproach. The statistics prove that this isn’t the case. Medical professionals are often over-worked and experience burnout frequently. A heavy workload and too little sleep can easily lead to medical error. Some don’t do any harm to the patient; others put their health and/or their lives at risk.
The more questions you ask, the less likely it is a mistake will be made. Just giving you answers to your questions can help the doctor, nurse, or other professional recognize a mistake before it is made. For example, asking a doctor what a prescription is for might call attention to a prescription for the wrong medication.
Get a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Dealing with an injury can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to worry about including how you will pay your bills while you are unable to work. If your injury happened at work, workers’ compensation should pay your medical costs and your lost wages. If any additional treatment is needed due to a medical error, that should be covered too.
For example, a back injury might require surgery and several weeks of rest before you can return to work. If you don’t receive the antibiotics needed after the surgery, you might develop a secondary infection. This could lead to further complications and take much longer to heal. In severe cases, it might prevent you from ever being able to do the same type of work you did before.
There are time limits for reporting your injury and for filing a workers’ comp claim. If a medical error should occur, the case could become much more challenging. The insurance company will probably try to avoid paying for any treatment they claim wasn’t work-related. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can handle your claim. They can also deal with the insurance company on your behalf. You deserve compensation for all of your injuries from work.
If you’ve been injured at work and you require treatment for a serious or long-term injury, contact The House of Workers’ Compensation. We understand what you’re going through. Injuries and medical treatment cause a lot of worry and concerns. Let us help take some of the worries away so you can focus on getting better.