By now, most people have seen the national study that revealed that approximately 90,000 wrongful deaths were caused in the United States by medical malpractice. How can you, a family member or friend decrease the likelihood of suffering injury or death from medical negligence? One easy way is to ask your doctor about his experience in performing the type of procedure you are about to undergo. Ask what the “complication rate” is for the particular surgery. For example, what is the likelihood for infection or damaging an organ or nerve near the area being operated on? Some complications occur without medical negligence, while others occur because reasonable care was not taken by the surgeon or hospital staff.
In Virginia, you can obtain information about your healthcare provider online at www.vahealthproviders.com. This website gives information about your doctor’s qualifications, and whether he has ever settled a medical malpractice case or had a verdict rendered against him. Certainly, the fact that a healthcare provider has settled a medical negligence case does not mean that he is incompetent or should not be trusted as your physician. However, if you see multiple settlements or verdicts, you may want to consider another physician. It is an old cliché, but often, “where there is smoke, there is fire”. At a minimum, you can get some peace of mind that you have found out what you could about the doctor who is treating you.