When Doctors Don’t Listen, Patients Can Be Injured or Killed
GREENVILLE, South Carolina. One of the most important things a doctor can do is listen to his or her patients. If you’ve been injured or are suffering from mysterious symptoms, it can be hard to know what information your doctor will need. Some patients don’t experience symptoms right after serious injury. With traumatic brain injury, for example, it can be days or weeks before individuals experience memory changes, mood changes, or sleep disturbances associated with TBI. Doctors who fail to take the time to ask the right questions at the right time can end up with patients who suffer complications, additional injuries, or even death. At the very least, patients may receive delayed medical care or treatment and may suffer needlessly for additional time.
According to the New York Times, miscommunication or failure of communication is responsible for over 70 percent of “adverse health outcomes in hospitals.” Miscommunication or a simple lack of communication between doctors and patients is alarmingly common. Two out of three patients are released from the hospital without being told about their diagnosis. This means that patients may not have crucial information about follow-up or after-care. If you’ve been injured in a car accident or suffered a personal injury, this lack of information about the long term impact of your injuries can lead to other collateral losses. Victims of car accidents who don’t know their diagnosis may not be able to seek the proper compensation they may deserve from insurance companies and other negligent parties.
In some cases, when doctors fail to listen to their patients, tragedy can occur. The New Yorker reported on a case where one girl bled profusely after a routine tonsil removal. Despite the family’s efforts to signal to doctors their concerns and the patient’s own efforts to express her pain, doctors and nurses both failed to respond to her bleeding in time. When the doctors realized that the girl was bleeding to death, it was already too late. Her heart had stopped.
While doctors need to make a better effort and receive training on how to communicate with patients, there are steps patients can take to advocate for themselves. Until doctors receive better training about speaking to patients, most patients may have to make the first effort when it comes to communicating with doctors. How can you do this?
- First of all, ask questions. You have a right to know your diagnosis, your prognosis, and your plan for care. Ask about the side-effects and possible interactions of medications you have been prescribed or are taking. Doctors may also use technical terms when speaking to you. If you don’t understand something your doctor is saying, you have the right to ask for clarification.
- Keep notes on your medical records. While more hospitals and doctors are switching to digital records, you can’t always count on your doctor to have your records or know your full medical history. Keep a copy of your records with you so that if your doctor has a question, you’ll have an answer.
- Get a second opinion. If you’ve been suffering from an ailment that doesn’t go away despite treatment, if you receive a serious diagnosis, or have not been recovering in accordance with your prognosis, you may want to take the time to get a second opinion. If you receive a serious diagnosis like cancer or if your doctor recommends surgery, it may be a good idea to get a second opinion. If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, you may also want to speak to more than one doctor, because certain conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, can be difficult to diagnose. Doctors sometimes make mistakes. In some cases, these mistakes can be deadly.
Finally, know your rights. If your doctor’s error has led to injury, you may have certain rights under the law. You may be entitled to seek damages for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The Churdar Law Firm are personal injury lawyers in Greenville, South Carolina who work with individuals who have been injured either due to car accidents or due to the negligence or neglect of another person or party. If you’ve been hurt, contact us today to learn more about your rights.