Are you not satisfied with the level of care you expected from your doctor? Or have you been through unfair treatment or think that things were not properly explained to you? After recent cases, people have become more aware of their rights and realized that doctors are not God. This article tells you how to protect your own health interests and get the most out of the legal system if you think you have been disadvantaged.
The level of litigation against the medical profession has been steadily increasing since the late 1900s. In the old days, there is a great disparity between doctors and patients – you simply do what the doctor tells you to do. Doctors used to hide behind their medical jargon, but this has all changed recently with the advent of the Internet. In fact, if your doctor tries to use medical terminology to confuse you, it is likely that they are either ignorant about your condition; or are trying to prevent you from knowing about your condition.
If you become suspicious of malpractice, read up as much as you can about your condition and seek the opinion of friends and relatives who have similar ailments as you. Do not trust the doctor blindly about what he says is best for you – after all doctors are only humans who are liable to make mistakes. The internet contains a wealth of information about most of the diseases and conditions. Some websites provide useful material that is particularly targeted to the general audience (for example:www.patient.co.uk). Always check that the website is a reputable one – some are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies to promote their drugs!
If still in doubt, confront the doctor and ask for their reasoning behind the decisions on your healthcare management. Never hesitate to ask for a second opinion from another doctor or a specialist – the doctors are used to these demands. Besides, if you don’t ask, you would certainly not get. When asking for a referral, make sure that the other doctor is from another region, so he or she is unlikely to know the doctor treating you.
If you think you are disadvantaged or assaulted, keep a good record of all your encounters, as well as the dates and times when these took place. These are important in any legal cases – doctors also have an obligation to keep good records about their actions and treatment plans. If they are sloppy in record-keeping, then that only adds to your case as they might not remember the exact situation in court. Traditionally, doctors can be charged under two categories: battery or assault; and negligence of care. Your legal attorney would be able to advise you on how to proceed when they decide to act on your behalf.
Increasingly, there are registries set up so that clients can go and check the background, qualifications and reputation of their doctor. Valuable information includes the number of malpractice claims and whether the doctor was disciplined or lost his or her license. It is not unknown for a doctor who lost a license to then set up a practice in another jurisdiction or country.
Under new legislation, clients can also demand to have a copy of their medical records, sometimes at a small charge to check that the details are entered correctly. Some doctors or institutions try to withhold this information illegally from their clients, sometimes to prevent a malpractice claim.