Do you worry that your medical caregivers might be messing up? If not, don’t feel bad. Nearly three quarters of the population feel that way. Unfortunately, they have good reason to. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
A recent survey by Wolters Kluwer (a medical care journal and software provider) showed that approximately 35% of patients know that they or a loved one have encountered medical error.
Naturally, it is difficult to be sure how many of the other 70% have encountered error and just don’t know it-yet. But it is telling that 21% of patients know that they have been misdiagnosed by physicians.
Over half of the patients (56%) made sure to get second opinions on their diagnoses. Given a 1-in-5 mis-diagnosis error, this is an excellent idea.
In fact, even when you are happy with your doctor’s diagnosis (or lack thereof), it is a smart idea to get a second opinion. This is especially true where major illness is concerned.
Other good ways to avoid medical error include:
- Before surgery, ask how many times your surgeon has performed the operation.
- Look for feedback about your surgeon online.
- Find online forums where people discuss the procedure you’re about to have. This may give you a good idea of how satisfied patients are afterwards. Just be aware that especially happy or unhappy patients may be more vocal than average.
- Ask friends, family, and colleagues/co-workers if they have any recommendations when it comes to a specialty physician of the type you’re seeing.
It’s also a good idea to ask your general practitioner or family doctor about good medical websites. There is plenty of confusing, conflicting, and just plain wrong medical information going around online.
Studies show that the more informed a patient is, the less likely he or she is to encounter medical malpractice. Don’t be afraid to ask your surgeon tough questions. Also, when you have an important procedure in your future, make sure you are well-armed with accurate knowledge. And make sure your surgeon knows it!