Currently, everyone is wondering what’s going to happen to their healthcare coverage. If you have employer provided coverage, then you are in a great situation. If you don’t have employer provided healthcare coverage, then your healthcare coverage is truly up in the air, waiting to see what Republicans are going to end up with to push on the American people.
Will you be able to afford coverage under a new GOPcare plan? Will your policy cover the costs of any surgical mistakes made by doctors operating on you? Maybe you should also be asking if there is anything you can do to help prevent surgical mistakes from happening to you?
Doctors and surgeons have a great deal of schooling and continuous training to hone their skills, but they are human and do make mistakes. Many joke and say that’s why they call it ‘practicing’ medicine instead of actually performing medicine.
In case you’ve never thought about it, a study conducted last year by Johns Hopkins found that medical errors account for 10% of all deaths in the US; as many as 250,000 deaths a year in the United States, making it the third leading cause of death in the US.
When a doctor prescribes a treatment for something such as an illness, do you just blindly take whatever medication is prescribed or do your take time to research what they are and what side effects they may have? Sometimes, taking the wrong medication can only lead to more and serious health issues.
Among the mistakes doctors and surgeons make is what’s called ‘wrong-site surgery’. This happens when a doctor operates on the wrong person or on the wrong part of the body. The consequences of ‘wrong-site surgery’ can be extremely harmful and even deadly.
One example was a man who had been having pain in one of his testicles. The doctor found it had atrophied after being injured years early and scheduled surgery to remove it. Turns out the surgeon removed his healthy testicle, leaving him permanently sterile and short of vital male hormones.
We’ve all heard stories of doctors removing or operating on wrong organs, the wrong leg, wrong arm, etc. So, what can you as he patient do to protect yourself?
1.) Ask lots of questions. Don’t go into any medical procedure or operation if you have any questions or concerns that haven’t been answered. You have the right to learn as much as you can before undergoing a scalpel or laser or anything else.
2.) Detail everything. Not only should you make sure you know as much as possible and gather all of the information you need, but you also need to make sure the doctor or surgeon knows everything he or she needs to know. Tell them of every medical condition and reaction you’ve ever had. Also make sure they know about every medication and over the counter medicines, vitamins and supplements you take. You and your doctor may be unaware that something you are taking could impact the procedure and/or recovery.
3.) Know your surgeon or doctor before any procedure. Frequently, your doctor may arrange for you to have surgery with a surgeon you’ve never met. If the surgeon doesn’t know you, how will he or she know they are operating on the right person?
4.) Research the procedure. Learn as much as you can about whatever procedure you are about to have. Sometimes research can find a less invasive or cheaper procedure than the one you are about to have.
5.) Find a specialist. Don’t let a general surgeon cut you open. Find someone who specializes in the procedure you are having. The better experienced a specialist is, the less likely he or she may make any mistakes.
6.) Highlight the surgery site yourself. If allowed by the doctor or surgeon, mark or highlight the area or part of your body that is about to be operated on. If it’s the right leg, then mark the right leg and if necessary, write on your other leg – WRONG LEG.
7.) Have a friend or family member with you. Don’t go it alone. Not only should you bring a friend of family member, but make sure they know as much as you do about the procedure you are having.
8.) Ask your insurance provider if your policy covers medical mistakes and correcting them. Not every policy does.
Do everything you can to prepare yourself and whoever is going to accompany you, for whatever procedure you are having. The more you know, the better you can help prevent mistakes on the part of your doctor or surgeon. It may save you a lot of money and a lot of misery.