How not to be a medical malpractice victim

I just read an excellent article by CNN’s senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen. Her article, How to avoid falling victim to a hospital mistake is a must-read for anyone who is going to be a patient in the hospital or anyone who has a loved one there. The article is one in a series on the Empowered Patient.

In her article, Cohen tells the story of a young woman who was a victim of a medical mistake. Kerry Higuera went into a hospital ER room because she felt she was having a miscarriage. Because of a mix-up of patients with the same first name, the hospital performed a CT scan of Higuera’s abdomen which had unknown but potentially dangerous consequences to her fetus because of the radiation exposure. Radiation can harm the development of a baby causing physical and mental problems.

Hospital malpractice like Higuera encountered are not that uncommon. According to The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, medical mistakes which include the wrong surgical site, the wrong side of the body or the wrong patient happen about 40 times a week in US hospitals. In a study of 2.8 million surgeries, the Archives of Surgeries estimates that wrong-site surgeries occur in 1 out of every 112,994 surgeries.

The article on CNN.com coaches patients to advocate for themselves and provides the following tips:

  • Identify yourself, your birthdate and the reason you are in the hospital to every professional who cares for you.
  • Check your ID bracelet when you are admitted to ensure they have the correct information on it.
  • Have your nurse read from your chart and tell you what it says about the procedure you are undergoing.
  • Mark your surgical site with your surgeon in front of you.
  • Correct and question nurses and/or doctors if they have the wrong information about you including your name, your condition, etc.

Cohen’s article is excellent, read the full text here.

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been injured by medical malpractice including surgical error and hospital error.

Contact The Farber Law Group at 1-800-244-9087 or attorney@hgfarber.com to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue to assist you.