Thursday, March 27, 2014
ProPublica’s patient safety guide iss a viable resource for those who don’t know where to turn for answers and accountability after suffering a preventable injury, infection or medical error. Reporter Marshall Allen explains what readers should do after suffering patient harm, based on advice from Helen Haskell, founder of Mothers Against Medical Error.
Some of the key steps include:
- Get a copy of medical records, which every patient has a right to under federal law. These records can provide important information about what happened -- and what might have gone wrong.
- If the patient has died, order a forensic autopsy, which includes toxicology tests. Autopsies -- though not always 100 percent accurate -- are the most reliable means of finding out what happened in an unexpected death. Hospitals do not routinely conduct autopsies, but the family has the right to get one.
- Consider calling an attorney. Be aware that the standards for proving medical malpractice are much higher than most patients expect. Attorneys take few cases because they're expensive to pursue and difficult to win.