Friday, November 25, 2005

Patients respond to "Coping with a malpractice suit"

My post described a physician's viewpoint. But blogging opens a window to viewpoints far different from our own. How many doctors have heard this from a patient?
Weirdly enough, if you substituted "doctor" for "lawyer" in most of that article, you'd pretty much have the reaction of non-medical people to dealing with illness, or even a simple doctor's visit.

Or just about any other stressful issue.

No one wants to be sued wrongfully or maliciously, of course. And no doubt doctors by the nature of their practices are in danger of such suits more than the rest of us. There medical folks have my sympathy.

But I'm not sure why these reactions or feelings about being sued for malpractice should surprise anyone in any way.
Or this:
I completely agree with the anonymous person who said that you can substitute any of the physician's feelings listed above for the patient's feelings or the feelings of the patient's lawyer---surprise, shock, outrage, anxiety, dread, etc. I was at this point in the late 1990's because of an incompetent neurosurgeon I had. Due to my family, (none of whom have ever been employed in the medical profession), taking me to a completely different hospital in a completely different geographical area, I am fully functional today. But I lost an extremely good job I had recently acquired while I was waiting for the clown to diagnose me properly, and I've never been able to get another job as good since then...(And, yes, the condition I have is a neurological condition that he should easily figured out.)
If we were more aware of our patients' emotions, would we practice differently...and would we be sued less frequently?

4 Comments:

Blogger Allen said...

I'm sure if we all took the perspective of the people we're dealing with...everyone in every situation would benefit. Regardless of job, etc...
Mr. Portable

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If we were more aware of our patients' emotions, would we practice differently...and would we be sued less frequently?"

For me, the decision of whether or not to pursue a lawsuit has nothing to do with emotion on anybody's part. It has to do with keeping my bills paid. If I have extra medical bills, and I am unable to work for a living because I am the victim of medical malpractice, then why shouldn't I sue?

6:00 PM  
Blogger Fallen Angels said...

I think the part of the discussion that is missing here is, what, exactly, constitutes malpractice? If I go into the ER, get diagnosed with an apendicitis that is about to rupture and the surgeon takes out my spleen which is followed by a ruptured apendix...THAT is malpractice. Being given a medication that I've never taken before and is not related to any I have taken, then subsequently having an allergic reaction, is NOT malpractice. That's luck of the draw, in my opinion. In the U.S.A., and my state in particular, it seems that suing anyone and everyone you can is the standard m.o. (before anyone who reads this gets po'd...I'm not a doc...I'm not a nurse (yet) and I have two chronic illnesses (diabetes and asthma), so I DO know what it's like to go to the doc).

"If we were more aware of our patients' emotions, would we practice differently...and would we be sued less frequently?"

Two thoughts on this. I think that, yes, some docs would in fact practice differently. Being more aware of patients' emotions implies more listening, and possibly slowing down (hard these days I know). If those two things happen, then perhaps less mistakes (minor or otherwise) would be made? My GP, GYN and Pdoc (psychiatrist) are all female. This is primarily because of past trauma reasons. However, I HAVE seen male docs...in the ER when asthma takes a sudden bad turn, when I had a work related repetitive stress injury and when I needed to see a specialist quickly and there were no women available in a reasonable driving range. The female docs listen more actively (even when extremely busy), they ask more questions, they answer my questions without getting irritated and they welcome my opinions and sometimes change their course of action after hearing my opinion. Because of this, my diabetes was diagnosed in one visit to the GP. I thought I had a bladder infection...she asked question after question, some related to psych issues, some not. On the fatigue question she wanted to know if any psych meds had recently been switched etc. She decided to do a finger stick just because a few things didn't seem right (I only had a couple symptoms) BgL was 453!! Pretty clear dx there...although she did send me for labs for confirmation. Anyway...now that I have written my novel...I just want to say, I think that all of this is simply because these particular docs are aware of and concerned with their patients emotions.

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once in the hospital, I was given another patient's medications by accident. I was angry when I found out. I didn't suffer any serious problems because of it, but I wanted to know if the person even cared that this had happened. I will tell you that when the nurse came into my room soley to apologize to me, my anger was gone. I just needed to know that the person was sorry and that they recognized the magnitude of it. I told the nurse how much I appreciated that he told me the truth and that I thought it took a lot of guts to do that. If I had never received an apology I still would not have sued, but I might have reported it. I needed to know someone took that seriously. Mistakes happen, doctors make mistakes, nurses make mistakes, and patients make mistakes. But showing sincere regret when a mistake occurs is so important.

10:44 PM  

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