Though it is impossible to completely eliminate medical malpractice, there are some things that expectant parents can do to help minimize the risks of injury to their unborn children. As of 2007, the United States had an infant mortality rate of 6.37 per 1,000 live births. By following these steps, you may be able to prevent becoming a statistic.
- Research Your Potential Doctors: Before selecting a doctor, spend some time to understand your doctor’s (and your hospital’s) qualifications. Get referrals from friends. Talk to other doctors and medical providers, and get their insight. Consult with medical malpractice lawyers in the same area to find out if the doctor or hospital has a good or a bad reputation. Check to see if your state keeps a database of disciplined doctors, or doctors who have been sued before for medical malpractice. For more help, see Preventing Medical Malpractice Injuries: Selecting a Doctor.
- Question All Medication: Whenever you are given medication, whether pills, injections, or IV fluids, you should ask what the medicine is, and what dose. By asking, patients can help to prevent the delivery of medications that can cause allergic reactions. It also helps by giving the health care provider (often a nurse) a chance to step back and acknowledge what they are giving the patient—oftentimes, they may recognize their own mistakes.
- Hope For The Best, Plan For The Worst: While we hope that every birth goes off without a hitch, it is important to know what choices you might be presented with along the way. Be very clear with your doctor about your birth plan, and make that plan well before the day of delivery. Will you be attempting delivery with or without an epidural? How long will you attempt vaginal delivery? Is there any medication you are not comfortable using? Making sure that you and your doctor are on the same page will make for clear expectations, and will mean that you won’t have to decide a course of action at the last minute. It will also ensure that your doctor plans out your medical treatment, and pays attention beforehand to the specific facts of your medical care.
- Don’t Be Alone: Many problems arise when a patient is left alone. It can be difficult for one person to fend for themselves in a hospital, particularly when “attached” to the hospital bed with wires and tubes, or under the influence of medication. Family members or advocates can help by stubbornly getting help when equipment alarms are sounding, or when the patient appears to be having any problem that might need attention.
- Speak Up: It can be awkward for patients to question physicians and nurses—after all, they went through years of medical training, and they have experience. We also don’t want to ask “dumb” questions. It’s best, however, to treat medical care for what it is—these health care practitioners are in the service industry. They are there to help us. We are their patients, and they have a duty to ensure that our questions are answered, so that we can help to make health care decisions for ourselves. If you are unsure of what is going on, or if you are worried about something that a medical professional is doing, it is best to ask about it. Don’t allow the health care providers to brush you off—you are entitled to answers, and if you don’t get them, you can talk to a supervisor. Customer service is important to hospitals and practices, and they should bend over backwards to make you comfortable. By asking questions, you ensure that the medical care team knows your situation, and that they are thinking through the solutions.
If you have questions about birth injury medical malpractice, or if you want to know if your doctors and health care providers did everything they can to prevent the injury of your child, contact our birth injury lawyers at (855) 712-7818 or request more information online. Our team of legal and medical experts will evaluate your situation, and give you answers.
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