Medical professionals have a responsibility to be honest, informative, and to offer a high level standard of care while you are in the hospital, but as a patient, there are things that you can do as well to help prevent medical malpractice.

Various studies on medical malpractice have cited that lack of communication between the doctor and patient is a significant factor when there is a decision to be made about whether or not to file a lawsuit for malpractice. Although a medical professional has an obligation to keep the lines of communication open, you as a patient should also be honest and communicative with your health care provider. Let them know of any prior medical conditions you may have had and don’t be afraid or intimidated by all the technical medical jargon. If you’re unsure of what a doctor is saying, speak up and ask plenty of questions.

Another common cause of medical malpractice is misdiagnosis. Some common misdiagnosed conditions include appendicitis, heart attack, and certain infections. Misdiagnosis can lead to incorrectly prescribing medications in addition to physical and emotional trauma. If you have any doubts whatsoever about a doctor’s diagnosis, we recommend getting a second or even a third opinion. At the same time you can get a sense of which doctor really does care about your health and well being.

Improperly prescribed or filled medication has also contributed to instances of medical malpractice. It’s important to always ask for more information about any drugs that your doctor prescribes to you. Find out exactly what the medicine is for and all the different side effects it may cause. Do your own research, and again, ask questions. This is part of the communication process between you and your doctor or health care provider.

When you do receive a prescription from the pharmacist, double check to make sure that the medicine is indeed what your doctor prescribed.  According to patient advocacy groups, a very common error made is the pharmacist getting drugs mixed up because they are spelled similarly.

Although doctors face the greatest risk of being sued, they should not have the sole responsibility to prevent medical malpractice. It can be a collective effort of the health care community and public at large. You can contribute to reducing claims and being a victim of medical malpractice by being proactive in your health care and staying informed and educated about any and all surgeries, operations, or any type of procedure that you may have to go through.

If, by chance, you’ve exhausted all efforts and absolutely must sue for medical malpractice, make sure to hire an experienced malpractice lawyer to help you with your case.