When patients go to a doctor’s office or hospital, they depend on these medical professionals to successfully diagnose and treat their medical issues. In severe cases, this dependency could mean life or death. A number of doctors will do everything in their power to ethically and honestly treat their patients, as promised in each healthcare practitioner’s Hippocratic Oath. However, many patients continue to be victims of malpractice.
Medical malpractice can occur both intentionally and unintentionally. In many cases, signs of malpractice are easily unnoticed or disregarded by patients and their families. For any patient receiving medical care, it is important to be aware and alert to identify any signs of malpractice. The sooner the signs of malpractice are recognized, the sooner the patient can safeguard his or her health and wellbeing.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to meet the standards of care that have been established in each particular field. Medical malpractice is typically an error that could have been prevented if the medical professional acted in the same manner as other similar professionals would have acted. Types of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, negligence, surgical error, and unnecessary surgery.
Signs of Malpractice in Treatment
No Medical Improvement or Recovery
One of the main signs of malpractice during treatment is when a patient’s condition does not respond to the administered treatment. This may be caused by a misdiagnosis or improper treatment plan. Additionally, victims who exhibit signs of malpractice may experience unexpected side effects or worsening of their medical condition after receiving treatment.
Unexpected Side Effects
Signs of malpractice may include side effects that result from a specific medication or treatment regimen that was administered. Before prescribing medication or beginning a treatment, each healthcare professional should explain the possible side effects and complications to the patient. In some cases, the medication or treatment causes the patient to feel worse or causes unexpected symptoms. This is one of several signs of malpractice that occurred via diagnosis, treatment, or medication error.
Becoming Ill after Surgery
Signs of malpractice include sudden, unexpected illness or infection that occurs after a surgical procedure. This can indicate that a surgical error has taken place. Surgical errors can include wrong site surgery and accidental laceration or organ perforation. In rare cases, patients have reported foreign objects such as surgical tools that were mistakenly left inside the body after the procedure was completed.
Doctor Signs of Malpractice
Failure to Answer Questions
Signs of malpractice in doctors may be evident when a doctor cannot or will not answer a patient’s questions. This can be a result of purposely concealing information or lack of knowledge about certain topics or issues that arise.
Either way, unanswered questions should be a serious red flag for patients. If this occurs, patients are recommended to continue asking until someone answers these questions. Answers can be sought from other staff members in a medical facility, or by visiting another facility and doctor altogether.
Dismissing Patient Symptoms
When diagnosing a medical condition, a doctor should record and monitor all symptoms a patient is experiencing. In many cases, symptoms may be the sole means of diagnosing a condition. If a doctor dismisses or fails to investigate patient symptoms, the doctor may be acting negligently. Furthermore, dismissing symptoms can lead to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a life-threatening condition.
Lack of Proper Diagnostic Testing
Diagnosis is a common stage for malpractice to occur. Signs of malpractice can be seen when doctors provide patients with a diagnosis without performing any diagnostic testing. For instance, colon cancer is typically diagnosed after a colonoscopy or other colon imaging tests. Therefore, a colon cancer diagnosis should not be made until these diagnostic tests have been performed.
Likewise, diagnoses should be made after examining multiple test results. If a diagnosis is made after one test, such as a blood test, error is more likely to occur than when multiple tests are conducted. Labs can also make mistakes, which is why several tests should be performed if possible.
Conduct Your Own Research
Prior to visiting a doctor, it is recommended that patients do as much research as possible into their symptoms and possible diagnoses and treatments. The Internet offers a wide variety of resources to conduct initial research.
This way, the patient can have a basic idea of what to expect, which questions to ask and information to provide, and what type of testing may be recommended for certain groups of symptoms. By staying informed, alert, and educated, patients can help to prevent being victims of malpractice.