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Your New Role As A Patient

By Richard Klein, MD
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Dr. Klein’s new book, SURVIVING YOUR DOCTORS: Why the Medical System Is Dangerous To Your Health And How to Get Through it Alive (Rowman & Littlefield) is a timely and much needed guide to getting the best care possible out of a flawed system, offering patients a prescription for maneuvering their way through the healthcare maze.

Most people are unaware of the magnitude of medical malpractice deaths in the United States. Over 100,000 patients are killed annually in our hospitals by doctors and hospital staff. Do we hear an outcry from doctors? We only hear their complaints about higher legal awards to those who are injured or killed. We also hear their complaints about the high cost of medical malpractice insurance rates.

I wrote my new book, Surviving Your Doctors, to raise awareness of medical malpractice existence and to develop a questioning attitude of whatever is told you by your physician and hospital staff.

Doctors are busy. They have to see twice as many patients as they used to, to make the same amount of money. Busy leads to inattention, which leads to mistakes. Mistakes tend to compound one of the biggest causes of medical malpractice by physicians is making a wrong diagnosis and sticking with it despite all testing returning with contrary results.

Patients have to relearn their relationships with their physicians. In our modern world, with information readily at our fingertips, no longer should we be passive and accept everything we are told. Doctors frequently make mistakes and patients suffer.

  • Be your own advocate. Question everything that is done to you. Do not allow any medicine get into your system without questioning.
  • Come to your appointment with a list of your concerns and discuss the most important one first with your doctor. Bring a list of the medications you are presently taking.
  • Don’t accept medicine or injections from anyone unless you are sure they are meant for you. Make sure you know the side effects and interaction with other medicine you may be on. Is the medicine absolutely necessary?
  • Remind your medical professional that you are really nervous about getting an injection from anyone and would they mind washing their hands before they touch you.
  • Discuss your concern regarding “A book or an article I just read had shocking statistics on the rate of medical malpractice…” That should serve as a reminder to be a little more attentive to your care.
  • If you are incapable of being your own advocate (such as when you’re under sedation), have someone else act on your behalf.

It doesn’t seem fair that the burden is now shifted to the patient whereas we are paying our doctors for their knowledge. It is true that physicians spend years acquiring knowledge, and we must respect that. The appalling rate of mistakes made demand that the patient be their own advocate. Furthermore, letters to our political representatives, medical societies and hospital boards should demand that more emphasis should be placed on constant retraining of physicians, similar to the continued training in other professions.


About Richard S. Klein. Dr. Klein has more than 38 years of experience in the healthcare industry and 20 years of experience testifying in malpractice lawsuits. A champion of patients, Dr. Klein’s latest book, Surviving Your Doctors, reveals important information about how malpractice happens and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.