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Portland Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Tips to help you have a successful surgery

If you're going in for surgery, you may worry that the doctors will make a mistake. Perhaps you have been reading news reports about wrong-site surgery, for instance, and cases where doctors carry out the wrong procedures on the wrong patients.

You have a lot of different options to help avoid outcomes like these. Some are fairly basic, such as drawing an X on the body part on which they're supposed to operate -- putting an X on your right knee, for instance, so that they don't operate on the left knee. However, in addition to this, you may also want to:

  • Check and see if the surgeon has been accused of malpractice in the past.
  • Seek a surgeon with a lot of experience performing the procedure.
  • Try to set your surgery up for typical, daytime hours. Even if it's not as convenient for you, this is when many of the best doctors work their standard shifts.
  • Consider the proficiency of the medical staff that will assist the surgeon.
  • Find a surgeon who makes you feel comfortable and confident.
  • Go to other medical centers to learn more and perhaps even get a second opinion.
  • Ask every question you can think of. There are no silly questions. This is your life and your health. Do not be satisfied until you get all of the answers you seek.

Risks hospital patients face

That trip to the hospital could actually put you at serious risk. This is true, to a degree, if you're just visiting. However, experts generally say that the greatest risk for disease, infection and other complications is undoubtedly to people who are patients.

Maybe it starts with a cough, which turns into pneumonia. You go in for treatment and wind up with a serious infection on top of everything else. Now your very life is in danger. How did it happen?

Potential cancer warning signs

Different types of cancer do come with very different symptoms and warning signs, and it's important to keep that in mind if you think you may be suffering from the disease. Do not expect it to always appear exactly the same. Below are a few of the most common signs, but remember that this is not an exhaustive list.

If anything concerns you at all, whether it is on this list or not, the best course of action is usually to go see your primary care doctor. They can help you make a diagnosis or refer you to a specialist.

What are the most common types of cancer?

One reason that cancer is so prevalent in modern society is simply that there are so many different types that you can get. When you look at cancer deaths as a whole, the numbers are staggering, and they include everything from skin cancer to mesothelioma. If you get diagnosed with cancer, those overall statistics may be far higher than the real risks that you face. Different types of cancer have vastly different recovery rates.

With this in mind, you may find yourself wondering what the most common types are in the United States. The following make up the top 10, according to experts at cancer treatment centers:

  1. Skin cancer
  2. Lung cancer
  3. Prostate cancer
  4. Breast cancer
  5. Colorectal cancer
  6. Kidney cancer
  7. Bladder cancer
  8. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  9. Thyroid cancer
  10. Endometrial cancer

Is your doctor just worn out?

Think about your typical workday. You get up, drink a cup of coffee and feel pretty alert by the time you actually get to your desk. Throughout the morning, you're mentally sharp and dialed in. Lunch gives you a little break and helps you pick it up for the afternoon.

By 4:00 p.m., though, you're starting to wear out. You're looking at the clock. You're making more mistakes. It's been a long day, and you did the best you could, but you're tired. No matter what profession you're in, you just feel a bit exhausted by the time you're ready to head home for the evening.

What should you do after a terminal cancer diagnosis?

It's hard to hear that you have terminal cancer. It's easy to let it overwhelm you. It may feel like you have no other options. You may struggle to understand that this is really happening to you.

One thing that can help is to make a list of practical things that you need to do. Focus on what you can accomplish. Become productive. Take active steps. This can make it easier to deal with what this means for you moving forward. Some steps to take include:

  • Understand that you're going to be emotional, and that's all right. Everyone works through these things differently.
  • Focus on learning and gathering all of the information that you can. For instance, find out how the disease tends to progress, what options you have and what changes to expect.
  • Decide what priorities you have. For example, some people prioritize their quality of life, so they opt-out of difficult treatments. Others prioritize length of life, so they'll use every possible treatment option. There's no right or wrong here; you just need to decide what you want.
  • Talk openly with your family and friends. That doesn't mean oversharing, but remember that you don't have to do this all alone.
  • Take any proper legal steps to prepare. This could mean doing your estate planning, planning out a funeral for yourself and setting up medical directives regarding the type of treatment you want.

Reasons why emergency room doctors make mistakes

Doctors can make mistakes and errors in any setting. In fact, medical errors have been identified as one of the leading reasons for death in the United States, and thousands of more people suffer injuries every year.

In the emergency department, though, patients face even greater risks. Doctors often make errors because:

  • They have incomplete information and cannot make a proper decision.
  • They have to act very quickly, without time to consider options or dig deeper into the situation.
  • They have unreliable information, such as statements from police officers at the scene who may not understand exactly what really happened.
  • They have frequent interruptions, as an emergency room can be a chaotic place where it's impossible to predict when new patients will arrive.
  • Life and death are often on the line, which makes the ER a very stressful place to work.

Surgeons may honestly think they're not making a mistake

When you think about surgical mistakes, such as operating on the wrong limb, it makes the surgeon sound very careless. You have this idea in mind that the surgeon just doesn't know what is going on, doesn't really care, and acts negligently. It's hard to fathom how that could happen with such significant ramifications on the line.

The truth, though, is that the surgeons often will honestly think that the procedure they are carrying out is the right one. They're not just careless or clueless. They do think they're doing the right thing until the error comes to light.

What to consider if your loved one dies in a hospital

If your loved one passes away in a hospital, it's no doubt a very difficult time for your family. You may not really understand what happened, why it happened or how it could have been prevented. It's very important to dig into this so that you know where you stand and what options you have.

After all, studies have found that most Americans (60%) pass away in hospitals. That's compared to just 20% of people who pass away at home and another 20% who do so at a nursing home. Most of them at least make it to a medical care center before dying, which means that doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are involved in the case.

Remember that cancer doesn't always have symptoms

In many cases, cancer brings on some serious symptoms, such as pain or unexplained weight loss. However, don't make the mistake of thinking that this is always the case. Especially early on in the disease's progression, it may not have any symptoms at all.

Take prostate cancer, for example. It's a fairly common and very dangerous type of cancer that can prove to be deadly for those who get diagnosed. As with most types of cancer, early diagnosis is important.

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