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Why communication (or lack of) is behind many malpractice suits

Many people assume that medical malpractice lawsuits result from a physician or another medical professional making some sort of egregious error. However, in reality, most suits are caused by a lack of communication or miscommunication among the medical team caring for a patient.

That lack of communication isn't just among medical professionals, but between patients and their doctors. As a 2003 study noted, the "root cause" of medical malpractice suits involved physicians' failure to see their patients' fear and frustration, and their failure to apologize for or explain problems that occurred in their care.

One doctor who has never faced a medical malpractice lawsuit cites several reasons for the lack of litigation against him:

-- He spends more time with his patients.

-- He has developed a software that records patients' medical records.

-- Because he builds strong relationships with his patients, they're more likely to forgive him and not attempt to take legal action is he does make a mistake.

He says that he learned these lessons early, during his residency. He says that "patients were disgusted, felt lost and treated like a number in the system, and I definitely knew that I did not want that." He determined that "what patients really needed and what they wanted was quality time with me."

Obviously, many people are not in a position to choose a physician who is willing to spend the kind of time with them that they would like. Many fine doctors are simply overbooked and overwhelmed.

However, when your health, or that of a loved one, is at stake, you have every right to ask for the time and attention that you feel is needed from a physician. If you or someone you love have been harmed and you believe that the proper medical care was not provided, you can and should find out what your legal options are.

Source: Northwest Herald, "Miscommunication at root of medical malpractice, McHenry County doctor, attorney say," Emily K. Coleman, Jan. 16, 2016

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