Paul M. D'Amore
Choosing the Right Doctor
Fight For Your Health!
Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States according to a John Hopkins study, responsible for approximately 250,000 fatalities every year. Patients cannot foresee every medical error that may be committed by their doctor, but they have far more control over becoming a victim of medical negligence than they might think. Sometimes all it takes to reduce the chances of injuries or illnesses due to medical errors is choosing the right doctor and avoiding the common mistakes most patients make when settling on a healthcare provider.
Common Mistakes When Choosing a Doctor
Looking for a doctor should not be a rushed task. In the case of an emergency or serious health condition, you’ll want a physician that is educated, knowledgeable, and capable of providing the best quality care. Patients often make a number of mistakes when choosing a doctor that could put their health at risk simply due to lack of information.
Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. lists these as the most common pitfalls patients fall victim to when choosing a doctor:
- Not doing their own research: Some patients rely strictly on recommendations from friends and family, neglecting to do their own research on the doctor they are looking into. Your health needs are different from friends and family, and their close relationship with the provider could cloud your judgment if the doctor makes a mistake.
- Taking the easy way out: Patients who go with the first doctor they find may be setting themselves up to be disappointed. Just because a doctor is actively practicing and around the corner is not a good enough reason to put your health on the line.
- Not checking with your insurance company: Falling in love with a doctor who is not within your network can be a huge mistake, especially for your wallet. There could also be a good reason the doctor is not in-network, such as providing poor quality care or having a history of medical negligence.
- Neglecting to screen your options: It’s rare for patients to call and screen the doctor or staff on the phone before making an appointment, but missing this step could also mean missing critical information on how the practice is handled.
- Settling for familiar: Patients who have been with the same doctor for a long time could be blinded and unable to see the poor quality care they are receiving based on a personal attachment to the physician.
Making these common mistakes could prove to be extremely risky for your health and safety. Patients should be looking into a number of factors before allowing just anyone to take over their medical care to ensure they receive the highest quality services on both a routine and emergency basis.
Questions To Ask Before Choosing a Doctor
Asking questions is the most effective way patients can learn more about the doctors they are interested in. If the doctor or staff are unable to answer specific questions about their background and practice, chances are you should start looking elsewhere for your healthcare needs.
National CPR Association highlights a variety of important questions patients should be asking before settling on a doctor, such as:
- Are they board certified in the specialty they claim?
- What medical school did they attend?
- How long have they been practicing?
- How is their reputation for patient care?
- How does the doctor handle emergency situations?
- Does the doctor accept same day appointments?
- Does the doctor work with patients to find the right referral option if a specialist is needed?
- What hospitals does the doctor work with?
- Will you see the doctor every appointment?
- What type of diagnostic testing do they do regularly?
If patients are experiencing any specific symptoms or health conditions, they should always be asking direct questions regarding the doctor’s history and experience in treating their specific needs.
Know The Most Common Medical Errors
Not all doctors are equal when it comes to medical care. While some have pristine reputations and make minimal mistakes, others may have track records for making multiple medical errors that could put patients at risk.
Patients should be aware of common medical errors that can cause serious illnesses, injuries, and even death, to be able to spot when doctors are not following proper protocols. The most common medical errors to watch out for according to Becker’s Hospital Review include:
- Urinary tract infections caused by catheters.
- Injury from immobility and falls.
- Adverse drug events
- Pressure ulcers or bed sores
- Blot clots
- Pneumonia associated with ventilator
- Bloodstream infections associated with central lines
- Obstetrical adverse incidents
- Infections at surgical sites
Doctors who have performed these types of medical errors in the past will most likely have malpractice suits filed against them. Patients should be looking into these types of incidents, as well as a bulk of other information about a doctor’s history, well before setting up their first appointment.
How To Do Your Own Research
Luckily for modern-day patients, there are a number of resources they can utilize to make an educated choice on a physician for their care. Consumer Reports recommends using these search methods for beginning your research into the right doctor for you:
- Check Your Insurance: Your insurance company will have a list of participating doctors in-network which might eliminate some shady physicians right off the bat. Doctors who never accept insurance could be hiding something. Plus, in the case of a medical emergency, you’ll want a doctor whose services are covered under your plan.
- Google Search: This method may sound a bit general, but any major malpractice cases or issues that patients need to be aware of when it comes to doctors will pop up instantly with a Google search. Patients will also be able to see awards, nominations, or articles published by the doctor to get a good idea of who they are outside of the practice.
- Check Hospital Affiliations: Seeing which hospital a doctor works with can give you a good idea of how they might practice as well. Doctors who work with hospitals with low safety grades may not put health and safety at the top of their list. Leap Frog Hospital Safety Grade is a good source to look up hospital ratings for detailed information on the quality of care provided by a hospital and its staff.
- Watch For Red Flags: Always check for red flags before settling on a doctor. Start by looking into the Federation of State Medical Boards website and the American Board of Internal Medicine to identify any medical malpractice history or lapsed certifications that could indicate a problem with how the doctor practices.
- Check Compatibility: Once you’ve decided to make an appointment with a doctor, use the first visit as a test. If you are not comfortable with the physician during the first visit, you will most likely have difficulty advocating for your care in the future.
- Ask The Staff: Unhappy staff can tell you a lot about how a doctor treats others. If the staff is short and unpleasant, there may be a reason for their behavior. Ask the staff questions when you are in the office to get a good idea of who the physician is both with other patients and with their staff.
Fighting Back Against Medical Negligence
No matter how much research a patient does on their doctor prior to treatment, physicians have a duty to provide the highest quality of medical care- there is no excuse for medical negligence. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or illness due to medical negligence, our aggressive team at D’Amore Law is here to fight back for you. Our expert medical malpractice attorneys will provide a free case evaluation to help you review all of the options available for seeking justice for your poor medical care.