It is often said that the only minor operation is surgery performed on someone else. Surgeons undergo years of schooling, internships and continuing training to be certified for the highest level of complex procedures. Yet every year, many thousands of patients suffer complications before, during and after surgery, often because they did not take some simple precautions that can help reduce the chance of sub-standard care and mistakes in the hospital.
If you are about to undergo a surgical procedure, or are experiencing an adverse health condition after surgery, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at DeLuca & Weizenbaum, Attorneys at Law. We will explain what to watch for when you are having surgery. We stand firmly behind our belief that surgery patients are entitled to receive the highest levels of pre-surgical and post-operative care.
Here are some basic tips to help you reduce the chance of injury before, during and after a surgical procedure.
- Pre-surgery questions: Surgery is the most invasive medical treatment you will ever undergo. Make sure you know exactly what the surgery will do to treat or improve your medical condition. Get clarification about pre-surgical tests, how contrast dyes might affect you and if any medications that you are currently on might interact with post-surgical medications for pain and recovery. Other questions should cover issues about drink and food, personal hygiene such as a haircut, trimming fingernails and toenails, use of deodorants, etc.
- Getting ready to go and transportation issues: Make sure someone you trust is available to transport you and your personal belongings to and from the hospital. Do not leave it in the hands of the hospital to arrange a taxi cab ride for you. Before you leave home, shower or bathe and wash your hair, but do not apply makeup or wear personal items. In most cases, you will be required to remove all personal jewelry, including your wedding ring, so you might as well leave it in a safe place at home.
- Hospital check-in: Bring a notebook and pen along to take notes about your check-in procedure and to write down specific instructions you will be expected to follow. When filling out the medical releases, admissions paperwork and insurance information, listen carefully to instructions and fill out the forms accurately. Don't sign anything you don't fully understand.
- Pre-surgery procedures: Listen carefully to your surgery nurse and ask questions about every procedure. You have a right to know whether your blood pressure and heart rate are elevated and what effect they might have on your surgery. Make sure you understand the type of anesthesia that will be used. Ask about the side effects coming out of the anesthesia. In most cases, you will have options that may include reducing the adverse effects of anesthesia. When you speak with your surgeon, make sure he explains the procedure and marks the correct spot where the surgery is to take place. If possible, have someone with you and taking notes until the last possible moment. Ask who will be in the operating room and what their various roles will be.
- Post-surgery: Keep your nurse and doctor fully informed about your pain. People handle pain differently. Hospital staff is trained to ask you to put a number on it, one through 10. Be realistic about what is really a level-eight pain (nearing unbearable) and what is level-three discomfort. Pain medication in the hospital is powerful and has serious side effects. If you say you are experiencing level-nine pain, they will treat you accordingly. Get a list of every medication and intravenous fluid you will receive during your hospital stay and ask questions about the possible side effects.
- Discharge and recovery: Don't leave the hospital until you have received a formal visit from your surgeon or attending doctor. Don't leave until you have received formal discharge instructions from your station nurse. Make sure you have prescriptions for all necessary medications. You can save money by purchasing your medications and assistive medical devices from your local pharmacy or health care store. Do not walk to the hospital exit on your own. Insist on a wheelchair assist. Make sure you understand the steps to take for physical therapy and follow-up appointments with your surgeon. Ask questions about what to expect for recovery and what to look for in the event things don't seem to be going well. If pain continues to be unusually high or other unexpected problems appear, do not wait until your follow-up appointment to report it to your doctor or surgeon. Call as soon as you think there might be a problem.
We believe that each doctor and hospital has a responsibility to their patients and the community to provide the highest level of preventive care, diagnosis and medical treatment up to the standards of their profession.
DeLuca & Weizenbaum attorneys are focused exclusively on helping people seek the justice they deserve after suffering an injury or losing a loved one because of medical care that falls below the accepted professional standards. From our offices in Providence, we advise and represent people injured by surgeon mistakes and medical care that does not meet the expected standards in communities throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case. Contact us today to arrange a no-cost consultation with one of our experienced Rhode Island medical malpractice lawyers.