My mom has been in the hospital since last Thursday evening with a partial bowel obstruction. This is something that has been plaguing her for the past five weeks and finally, we elected to have exploratory surgery done yesterday to try to determine the cause. Obviously, you are always concerned about something going wrong. It made me think that it might be time to do a post about medical malpractice.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence, you should always contact an experienced attorney to discuss the facts and determine if there is a claim to pursue. But remember, not all complications are necessarily malpractice. For example, in my mom’s surgery, there are risks she faced that were common to all surgical patients (ie, infection). So if she got an infection, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the hospital or doctor did something wrong. It could have just been a common risk she faced. On the other hand, say the doctor left a piece of gauze inside of her and that in turn caused the infection, then that very well may be medical negligence. Sometimes the line between negligence and a common risk is very slight and only an attorney can tell whether you have a valid legal claim.
Head Off a Potential Claim or Incident: if you or a loved one is in the hospital, you need to be proactive in assuring that you are being given the best possible care possible. Make sure you ask questions of the doctors and nurses so you understand fully what is going on. Do not hesitate to call the nurse for help if you need it. Insist that the medical personnel be responsive to your needs. Also be aware of the hospital’s bill of patient rights which will explain to you in detail the hospital’s duties to you. Review the hospital’s patient advocacy program. Most hospitals have in place a committee or person(s) in place to address patient grievances or concerns. Most of all… take active participation in your own hospital care.
If you are alone and do not have family to help look after you while you are in the hospital, and you do not feel you are getting the care and concern you need, you can call the Division of Health Services Regulation (DHSR) at (919) 733-7461.
Here is a list of the hospitals in our areas with patient rights information:
Wake Medical Center
Duke Health Raleigh Hospital
Duke University Medical Center
Durham Regional Hospital