Patient Rights Advocate Who Changed Medical Malpractice Law in California, Offers 25 Tips to Empower Patients to Take Responsibility for Their Own Lives ORANGE, Calif., Mar. 13 /Christian Newswire/ — After fifteen years encompassing ten excruciating knee surgeries and endless rehabilitation therapies to correct what her orthopedic surgeons told her had been a “congenital birth defect,” Janet Mitchell learned she had been betrayed by her doctors and had been the victim of medical error and misdiagnosis.
Ms. Mitchell now speaks to patient rights groups, ministries and civic organizations, reminding them that 98,000 Americans die each year in our hospitals due to misdiagnoses and medical errors, and that medical malpractice is the eighth most common cause of death in America.
In a memoir which reads like a Hero’s Journey chronicling the years of painful surgeries, years of loss of use of her legs, the stunning confession of one of her once-trusted doctors, her struggle to keep her faith in her doctors and not to sue them based on her traditional Christian-held convictions, moving through her feelings of betrayal and rage, and her ultimate decision to transform her rage by standing up for her own rights and the rights of patients everywhere, Ms. Mitchell’s new book, “Taking A Stand” (Green Key Books), culminates in advice to patients with 25 “Tips for Patients About Managing Your Own Healthcare.”
Here are some of her tips:
SELECT YOUR OWN DOCTOR
Strange but true – most people spend more time and energy in selecting a new car than they do in selecting a physician. Research your doctor’s standing with the state medical board’s website. Most medical boards disclose “disciplinary actions” against physicians.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR THE HARD QUESTIONS:
- Have you done this surgery before? What are your areas of expertise?
- How long have you been practicing medicine? (Don’t let a person without experience in this procedure operate on you!)
- Do you carry medical malpractice insurance? Don’t use a doctor who doesn’t. You have auto insurance – shouldn’t doctors carry insurance for something even more valuable – YOUR life?
- Will YOU be the person performing the surgery? (Don’t use a surgeon who says he’ll be supervising or observing).
- In what hospitals do you have staff privileges?
INFORM YOUR PHYSICIAN OF YOUR PAST MEDICAL HISTORY
Make sure that your doctor is aware of your medical history. This includes all surgeries, serious illnesses, or medication allergies. Ask your physician to request your medical records from all physicians you have seen. Obtain a copy for yourself as well.
GET A SECOND OPINION
If the diagnosis is serious, get a second opinion from an entirely independent doctor.
GET A SECOND LAB REPORT
There are 305,000 lab mistakes each year. If the diagnosis is based on the lab report, have an entirely independent, different lab do another examination and issue another report on you.
Twenty-three years after her surgeons’ devastating mistake, Ms. Mitchell inspired a new law enacted in the State of California, which extends the statute of limitations on medical board investigations in cases of concealment and fraud.