What Could I Have Done? July 29, 2011.

Unless you have gone to medical school and completed residency or other specialty training, there is probably nothing you could have done to prevent the malpractice that injured you or someone you love.

Most malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse or other caregiver fails to follow safety rules or precautions put in place by the hospital, practice or professional organizations. We all know things are safer when standardized rules or systems are being followed. That way everyone involved in the process knows what to expect. Would you prefer your doctor used a tried and a proven method of treatment or try something new on you?

Hospitals have rules they call policies and procedures. These policies and procedures are tested, proven treatment methods that ensure patient safety. Doctors and nurses are responsible for knowing the policies and procedures at the hospitals they work at.

Most medical specialities publish guidelines that set out the safest and most effective treatments in that specialty area. When caregivers follow these rules patients very rarely get injured and if a bad result ensues at least the doctor has a sound reason for his or her actions.

Not following safety rules drastically increases the chances that a patient will be injured. Just like if everyone stopped following traffic safety rules the number of car collisions would dramatically rise.

However most people that come to see me about a potential medical malpractice second guess themselves about what they could have done to prevent reaction which the defense will try to get the jury to use against you.

The reality though, is that the average person and probably you are unaware that a hospital, group or organization has safety rules let alone what those rules are. The best thing you can do to prevent medical malpractice is to find a competent, qualified, experienced doctor who will explain things to you in a way that you understand, provide a good medical history and then let him or her do their job.

The bottom line in most things in life including medical malpractice is not whether after the fact you can think of something else you could have done, but did you do your best with the information you had at the time? Almost always in the people I talk to the answer is yes.