Some Tips To Reduce The Risk of Medical Malpractice

To err is human.  This sad truth underlies all human endeavor.  It is true about medical treatment as well.  Every time we submit ourselves to medical treatment, we run the risk that someone will make a mistake that will harm us.  There are, however, some things we can do to reduce the risk of being the subject of medical malpractice.

Being a knowledgeable health care consumer is your best defense against malpractice.  Many doctors and hospitals are what we call “frequent flyers”.  They do not do their jobs well and injure their patients from time to time.  As a result they get sued more often than do other doctors and hospitals or get reported to the government.  There are resources which are available to you to figure out who these people are and avoid them.

The Arizona Medical Board and the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners: These two boards license and oversee the practices of Arizona’s medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy respectively.  You can search their web sites for doctors by name or by location or by specialty.  They maintain biographical data about their doctors including their medical education, their board certification status and their discipline status.  This is must reading for every patient.

Medicare’s Physician Compare Site: Medicare created this site to allow patients to compare doctors who accept Medicare.  Although it does not cover every doctor, it is a valuable tool nonetheless in light of how many doctors do accept Medicare.  You can search by location, by name or by medical specialty.

Medicare’s Hospital Compare Site:  This site is a companion to the Physician Compare site but contains far more information.  It allows you to compare a given hospital’s safety record, treatment success, patient satisfaction and more with other hospitals in the same state and in the nation.

Court Records:  Many jurisdictions have some portion of their court records on line and available for you to review.  Here is the site for Maricopa County, Arizona.  On this web site, as on many others, you can enter a doctor’s or hospital’s name and see how often they have been involved in litigation.  These sites often do not tell you enough to know what the specific allegations were or whether they had merit but any doctor who is sued often is someone who bears further scrutiny.

There is no way to guarantee that you will not be the victim of medical malpractice but the use of these resources will at least reduce your risk.  In a future post, I will discuss other steps you can take to increase your safety or that of your loved ones when dealing with the medical system.


Posted in Arizona Medical Board, Doctors, Hospitals, Lawsuits, medical errors, Medical Malpractice, medical mistakes, Medical Negligence, Medicare |