The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), reports medical negligence is the third leading cause of death in the U.S.—following heart disease and cancer. This is an alarming statistic: In 2012, there were over $3 billion spent in medical malpractice payouts averaging one payout every 43 minutes.
Florida was rated number five out of 50 states for medical malpractice payout in 2012 with recoveries of over $200 million. Becker’s Hospital Review statistics for 2012, reported that of the $3.6 billion in medical malpractice payouts nationally for 2012, Florida had $203,671,100 in payouts.
According to Becker’s report, most of the medical malpractice claims consisted of injuries related to diagnosis, surgery, treatment, obstetrics and medication. Is there anything you can do as a Fort Lauderdale resident to avoid becoming one of these unfortunate statistics?
There is. You must become your own health-care advocate and be proactive about your medical care. With the amount of health and medical research available on the Internet there’s no reason to go to your health provider unprepared. Document your symptoms and prepare a written list of questions and then demand full and complete answers.
Sometimes patients are intimidated by the medical system and physicians. Yes, it’s important to place a level of trust in your doctor or nurse, but it’s also important to listen to your body. Consider bringing a family member or friend with you during visits to health-care providers. Sometimes, they will remember things that you forget or have additional questions that can help provide important information about your diagnosis or patient care.
In an interview about medical malpractice in Forbes, a medical malpractice attorney in Virginia, believed that, “Hospital systems and health-insurance companies significantly impact the quality of medical care that patients receive, and, in my opinion, that impact is not always for the best.”
In regard to being your own advocate he stated, “Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion! And don’t be afraid to find a new doctor if you don’t feel that you’re receiving proper medical care. Your health is too important to place in the hands of a provider who hasn’t earned your confidence, isn’t answering questions or isn’t giving you—or your condition—adequate time and attention.”
Currently, the Fort Lauderdale-based EZ Doctor, as reported in Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel provides patient scheduling and video chats with doctors in order to facilitate better doctor-patient communication so consumers can learn important facts about a doctor, from education and board certifications to malpractice claims and settlements.
However, the company sees its potential money-maker in a bigger market: providing detailed physician reports for consumers researching new doctors.
After getting lots of patients asking if particular doctors were good, the co-owner of EZ Doctor, Marsidi realized they couldn’t really answer those questions. Marsidi said, “We can buy a Carfax report on any used Honda we’re buying, but we can’t do that for a doctor.”
EZ Doctor began setting up a nationwide system to gather information about doctors from states and courthouses, and collecting patient reviews, to provide a report to consumers.
Their reports include a doctor’s education; board certifications; hospital affiliations; average price of a prescription; publication; any disciplinary actions or criminal offenses; malpractice claims, dismissals or settlements; and insurance taken. The reports also give a summary of patient reviews and rankings online. The information is updated monthly.
This is a good way for South Florida and Fort Lauderdale residents to be their own patient advocate.