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Indianapolis Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Protecting yourself from the dangers of medical malpractice

If you are anticipating an upcoming medical procedure or are currently undergoing some type of treatment related to your health, chances are you are relying heavily on your doctor to make accurate recommendations, diagnoses and suggestions for your symptoms. While many Indiana doctors are committed to providing thorough medical care, it is imperative that you are aware of the dangers of medical malpractice and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim of your doctor's accidental misstep. At Garau Germano PC, we are familiar with the risks associated with receiving quality health care. 

If you are serious about protecting your safety and enabling your health care provider to do a better job of caring for you, it may be helpful to implement some proactive steps into the process of receiving treatment. According to Organic Lifestyle Magazine, there are several things you can do including the following:

  • Verify that any doctor who treats you is aware of your identity. Do not be afraid to confirm that you are the person who matches the information listed in the file in your doctor's hand. 
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you to important appointments and treatments to incentivize your doctor to be responsible and vigilant.
  • Before you work with a new doctor, take the time to research his or her credentials and past successes. If you are getting surgery, it is crucial that you find a doctor who specializes in the type of surgery you need. 
  • When surgery is required, ask your doctor to make a distinct mark on the body part requiring surgery so you can verify the procedure being done. 

How much time should your doctor spend with you?

You never want to feel as though you are being hurriedly shuffled through a service you are receiving, least of all when visiting the doctor in Indianapolis. When you are sick or injured, you rightly expect whoever treats you to take the time needed to listen to your concerns, accurately diagnose your condition and develop an effective treatment plan to correct it. Yet how long should that take? It may be difficult to assign an ideal treatment time due to no two medical problems being exactly alike. Ultimately, however, you should feel comfortable with the amount of time your doctor spends with you. 

Recent research indicates that time may be much shorter than most may think. Study data shared by Business Insider showed the most common time frame doctors spend with patients to be 13-16 minutes (that number may not necessarily indicate the length of a visit, but rather actual face-to-face time with a doctor). That may seem like hardly enough time for you to communicate your symptoms to him or her, for him or her to perform a comprehensive assessment, develop a diagnosis (and confirm it), and deliver treatment. Your condition as well as the nature of the facility you visit will no doubt have an impact on your time with your doctor. A minor condition may take less time to address, and a doctor working in an emergency room may feel pressed to work faster than one seeing you in an outpatient clinic. 

Can you guide your doctor to a correct diagnosis?

When you experience symptoms that cause you to feel unwell, these visible signs could be an indication of a more serious problem. Visiting your health care provider in Indiana to get diagnosed can be a helpful way to find a solution for treating your sickness and restoring your health. Guaranteeing that your doctor has made the correct diagnosis is important to avoid putting your body through unnecessary stress or exposure that could potentially cause worsened conditions and adverse effects on your long-term health.

Fortunately, you can help guide your doctor in making the right diagnosis by taking a proactive approach to the way you communicate your condition. According to Web MD, some of the actions you can take include the following:

  • Be thorough: When you notice symptoms that you have never experienced before, write each one down in detail. Do not discount anything and pay attention to how certain symptoms make you feel. 
  • Ask questions: Never be afraid to ask questions about your condition and various treatment options. Asking questions and addressing your concerns is an excellent way to guarantee mutual understanding and to gain confidence in the diagnosis you have been given.
  • Come prepared: Arrive at your appointment with all of the medications you are currently taking. Be prepared to discuss your health history with your doctor so he can better assess your needs and the potential causes for certain symptoms you are experiencing. 
  • Do research: Take adequate time to find health specialists who are experienced in working with patients who have had symptoms similar to yours.

Is it your job to prevent a medication error?

The fact that you even have to consider preventing a medication error on your own indicates a real problem in the medical industry. You should be able to trust that the medical personnel (doctors, nurses and others) have your best interests in mind and will diligently work to make sure that an error of any kind doesn't happen.

Even though many who work in the medical field do just that, they are human, and even the personnel with the best intentions can make medication mistakes. Others simply fail to meet the required standard of care or negligently handle your health care needs.

Understanding common signs of medical malpractice

Doctors are required to complete extensive educational requirements and endure rigorous on-the-job training before they are qualified to deal independently with patients. As such, people in Indiana are inclined to place full trust in their health care provider's ability to give thorough analysis, quality treatment and attentive care when medical needs arise. However, there are plenty of situations where doctors are at risk of making critical errors due to a variety of reasons including poor communication, carelessness or fatigue. 

People can more effectively protect themselves from being a victim of medical malpractice when they are actively involved in creating a treatment plan. Equally as important, is their awareness of what signs suggest that medical malpractice has occurred so they can immediately seek help. According to guidelineshealth.com, signs of medical malpractice include the following:

  • Worsening medical conditions: If people have received treatment for specific symptoms, they should begin to notice a change in the way they feel within a period of hours or days. If a person continues to feel unwell despite being treated, he or she may be the victim of a medical error. 
  • Patient input was not allowed: Patients should always have the opportunity to provide their input regarding their medical care. Doctors need to be familiar with a person's medical history, symptoms and personal needs to create a customized treatment plan. 
  • Improper diagnosis: If someone has been diagnosed with a condition they do not actually have, they have been the victim of medical malpractice. 
  • Medication errors: Sometimes doctors prescribe the incorrect medication or incorrect dosages to their patients. This can create significant risk to the health and wellness of affected patients. 

Deceased inmate's family blames his death on medical malpractice

When someone in Indiana is injured or seeking quality medical treatment, they often rely on the education, experience and vigilance of qualified health care professionals to provide effective care and assistance. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons including human error, side-stepping the rules and even fatigue, doctors can make mistakes which put their patients at risk of injury or death. 

In a recent case in New York, one family is suing a medical provider for millions of dollars following the death of their family member who was an inmate at a county jail. The family claims that medical negligence is to blame for the man's death because he was denied critical care during his stay at the jail. The medical provider named in the lawsuit is no longer employed by the jail. Reports detail that the man had a blood clot that had formed in the veins of his legs. Due to neglectful medical care, the blood clot grew and spread to the man's lungs ultimately resulting in his death. Additionally, he had an opioid dependency which was not effectively treated. Pancreatitis was another cause of the man's death listed in the report. When the man showed signs of distress and required immediate medical care, reports showed that he was not treated until nearly five hours later. Officials suspect that the man is not the only inmate whose death was caused by the medical neglect and malpractice of the former provider.

Preventative steps to protect your baby during childbirth

If you are one of the many first-time parents in Indiana, chances are you have already begun thinking about what your baby will look like, if the baby is a boy or girl, what color you should paint the nursery and what kinds of activities he or she will enjoy as they get older. You have probably also started learning about the process of childbirth and what to expect when it is time for you to go to the hospital. At Garau Germano PC, we are familiar with the risks and complications that can sometimes arise when a baby is born.

While a vast majority of birth injuries are not life threatening, they can alter the quality of life for your child. Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to gain confidence and peace of mind in anticipation of having your baby. According to Genius Pregnancy, some of the things you can do include the following:

Do you know the key elements of informed consent?

When you agree to undergo a medical procedure and end up with a poor outcome, you may find yourself thinking you would have never agreed to it had you know that your complications were a possible outcome. You may feel like your situation is an isolated one and struggling to deal with the aftermath. However, many people in the Indianapolis area find themselves facing similar circumstances. What originally seems like general consent for treatment often becomes evidence in medical malpractice claims. 

To protect yourself from informed consent malpractice issues, you should never agree to medical treatments and procedures without your medical team providing you with the following information. 

  •        Proper diagnosis
  •        Reason why treatment/procedure is necessary
  •        Treatment/procedure alternatives
  •        Risk and benefits of recommendation and alternatives
  •        Potential outcomes of not having treatment 

Care center accused of putting profits before patients

The healthcare system in Indianapolis extends far beyond clinics and hospitals. A patient's care may require long-term oversight, which could require a stay at a nursing home or skilled nursing facility. While the staffs at such facilities typically do not have the same level of training and expertise as those in hospitals, surgical centers or even outpatient clinics, they are caregivers nonetheless. That title charges them to devote the same level of commitment to patient care and safety as one would expect to receive at any other healthcare facility. A failure to deliver on that expectation may certainly be viewed as negligence. 

A care center in Pennsylvania has been accused of just that by the family of one of its former residents. The family of the man (who is now deceased) is claiming through a medical malpractice lawsuit that the problems he experienced while in the center led to the deterioration of his condition. They sought care there after the man required continuous special assistance following amputations to his lower extremities. The center claimed to be able to provide such a assistance, yet while there, the man experienced repeated falls and illnesses that required further hospitalizations. 

Failing to catch cancer early could be deadly

After not feeling right for a few weeks, your doctor still couldn't find a reason why. You endured numerous diagnoses and treatments that ended up not being right. You began to insist that your doctor conduct more tests to figure out what was wrong with you.

Even as you felt a sense of relief to learn what was actually wrong, you were devastated to find out that you have cancer. Then you may discovered your doctor could have found your cancer earlier, and your prognosis would have been better. Unfortunately, this happens more often than anyone would like to admit.