How to Avoid Incompetent Doctors, Medical Staff, and Hospitals:
While national malpractice statistics are touted to be rather low, personal experience and personal observations of nearly everyone I know suggests otherwise. If the attitude and disposition of the public is as litigious as commonly reported, the evidence is contrary. People tend to accept the vast numbers of errors, poor practice, even when overwhelming evidence is in their favor, people overlook what may otherwise seem a vast conspiracy of medically related incompetence as standard practice. I've never observed any level of competence in all my years to give me any feeling of comfort.
As a retired provider of physical rehabilitation services, trained at Northwestern University, with prior experience as an orthopedics orderly, paramedic and EMT, I personally avoid hospitals and medical practitioners like the plague, even after personally suffering traumatic injury requiring surgical intervention. I took care of my own injury, limping from the hospital after examining my own X-rays. While I would never recommend my actions to others, I cite this to make my point. I've seen far too many cases where 1) the surgery was successful but the patient died, 2) surgery was performed upon the wrong patient, or 3) wrong limb, or 4) the patient developed secondary infection and died. The lists go on and on.
Today, I accompanied a friend to the local Regional Medical Center and learned that she and everyone else there at the center had been given the wrong instructions in preparation for their cardiac stress tests in the Department of Nuclear Medicine relative to taking their own medications. Each had been called on Monday and given the wrong instructions. One of the patients was not home on Monday, didn't receive the instruction regarding which meds to take and which not to take. So he went ahead as usual, taking all his meds before coming to the Center. All were routinely tested.
Instead of being told not to eat for four hours before the tests, my friend was instructed not to eat for 24 hours. I tried to assure her this was an error.
Several weeks ago I accompanied her for pulmonary function studies. I've undergone so many myself, I was curious to see what they would do this time. The technician had never performed the test without supervision and direction. After going through the instructions at least a dozen time without success in starting the equipment, she went for help. So much attention was given to the technician that the patient was not instructed how to breathe into the equipment. The test outcome was so bad that my friend was told she had the lung capacity of a 99 year old.
A week later, we went to see a pulmonologist in Bay City. I had chills while driving past the Bay City Teaching Hospital which has the reputation of being a death pit. A friend died there a year ago as a result of being given the wrong medicine which resulted in kidney failure: that was quite a horror story.
The pulmonary function studies performed again were performed properly. She did quite well performing the tests and certainly far better than I would have been able to do. The pulmonologist asked why we were there. I suggested that my friend had flunked her previous exam at the clinic back home. (We both have chronic obstructive lung disease.)
My own symptoms are like those of a person with cystic fibrosis. Of course, I am told that I could not have cystic fibrosis because I am only a carrier of CF. It does not count that I was part of an involuntary study by the military on civilian populations of radioactive chemical dispersants. Couldn't possibly alter my genetic response to carcinogens or challenged my CF gene. (Everyone else exposed, at that time, who I've followed has lung disease. A few developed lung cancer and died.)
Another friend, who was there in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, at the time of the military testing, also now having lung disease, was recently discovered to have stage five Alzheimer's disease, and was hospitalized due to severe delusions, was asked to drive to the psychiatric hospital to be admitted. Not only that, she was being seen twice weekly by a psychologist who was unable to note any decline into stage five. I had conversed with her by telephone and within minutes made the diagnosis and had to call her numerous physicians, neurologists, therapists, etc., to get some help and appropriate medications. Her medications were totally inappropriate for the Alzheimer's and only exacerbated her symptoms.
I don't have the symptoms of Alzheimer's yet, but I do suffer from (I forget) "transient global amnesia." The episodes do not last for more than 30 minutes or so, as far as I can tell. But then again, I experienced much more missing time even as early as age four. My neurologist has never figured out why even after every damn test in the book.
How to avoid incompetent doctors, medical staff, and hospitals:
1. Make sure you know if a hospital is a learning/teaching hospital. Be very careful it is because often time they try to push off inexperienced doctors and nurses with poor bedside manners.
2. Research the doctors credentials/qualifications on the internet
3. Research the hospital - See if they have a good reputation.
4. Ask others about their experience at that particular hospital.
5. If you do not feel comfortable you always have the right to demand a more experienced doctor especially if they are doing any type of major surgery.
6. Check the Medical Board to see if the doctors are licensed.
7. Warning!!! If you see a waiver notice in the paperwork to have you to waive your rights to sue the hospital for medical malpractice, this is a warning sign that the hospital might have a high incident of being sued due to medical negligence.
If this similar thing happen to you please consider the following:
1. Request your medical records as soon as possible (ASAP) Always maintain your own copies of your medical records.
2. Look for lawyers that practices law within your state. Makes sure you check out their credentials and make sure they have actually handled and won some medical malpractice law suits against hospitals.
3. Look out for 1-800 type lawyers on television commercials and ads that say that they help people with medical malpractices. Some of them actually work for the hospitals. Some law firms are only after the highest bidder and if you can't pay them then they will give you the run around and help the hospital by saying they might represent and give you the false pretense that they are interested in your case. Some possibly take fees from the hospital to ensure they have enough time to flag your record and falsify your records to protect themselves and not pay you for anything. And in the mean time you are suffering extreme medical cost due their negligence.
4. When you request your medical records make sure you put everything in writing. If a negligent hospital tries to keep you from getting your records and is stalling time you will have legitimate proof that this is really taking place. Make sure you send them a certified letter and go to the hospitals medical records to make sure you made additional efforts to getting your medical records. Remember the hospital is stalling for time to falsify their records and to ensure you miss the date of statue of limitations.
5. By keeping your own records current and up to date you can do most of the work without creating any suspicion or minimizing the suspicion that you are now doing something different and may sue. Do as much work yourself and trust no one to leak your intent and suspicions.