Each day, millions of Americans rely on their health care providers to give them personalized and quality medical care. Unfortunately, mistakes happen and due to the gravity of a doctor’s role, such missteps can jeopardize patient safety and well-being.
While many factors impact the likelihood of malpractice, poor communication can substantially increase the risk of error. When patients understand how to communicate with their doctors, they may better protect themselves from malpractice.
Patients can get a good feel for how well their doctor communicates from the very first appointment. According to St. George’s University, one of the most valuable qualities of a good doctor is the ability to communicate effectively. This includes a willingness to listen intently to patient requests, concerns and suggestions.
Throughout appointments, patients should gauge how their doctor behaves during discussions. This may include the way their doctor processes their concerns and responds to inquiries. Doctors should also provide timely updates regarding the results of medical visits, tests, and treatments.
Equally as important as a doctor’s need to communicate, patients should proactively engage in their medical treatment. This includes providing detailed and current medical records, as well as disclosing any allergies they may have. Patients can hold their doctors accountable when they ask for follow-up communication. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, prior to an appointment, patients could benefit from writing down any questions they have to optimize their conversation with their health care provider.
Medical malpractice has serious consequences that could result in chronic pain, permanent disability and even death. Suffering from the mistakes of another should never happen. When patients commit to communicating with their doctors, they can advocate for their own health and safety.