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How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Medical Malpractice

by Steven A. Heimberg, J.D., M.D.

Medical Errors and Medical Malpractice Can Subject Patients to Devastating Injuries, Frustration, Substantial Costs, Emotional Trauma, loss of earnings, disfigurement, and even death.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Medical Malpractice


Medical Malpractice is a term used to describe what occurs when doctors and hospitals and other health care providers hurt patients because of inadequate care, whether from carelessness, indifference, or greed that are crucial parts of their practice areas. More than a mere mistake or a provider’s simply “being human.” Malpractice occurs when the care or treatment is so poor that it fails to meet accepted community standards. Such substandard care ‘ commonly referred to as “negligent” care, unfortunately, occurs regularly.

Harvard Medical School found that 1 in every 7 patients entering the hospital receives negligent care. And each year, medical malpractice causes more deaths than automobile accidents, breast cancer, and AIDS combined.

Reducing the Risk for You and Yours

There are several things you and your family can take to avoid becoming part of these horrific statistics:


Be a squeaky wheel – ask pointed questions and insist on real answers that stand up to simple scrutiny. Make sure you understand the details of your doctor’s treatment plan.


If you must receive care in a hospital, ask someone reliable to be with you as often as possible. To the extent you are unable to do so; this person should act as your eyes, ears, and mouth.


Despite their misleading name, “urgent care” clinics are not usually qualified to treat real emergencies. Identify a nearby reputable emergency room you plan to use before an emergency happens. If taken by ambulance, insist that the ambulance take you to your chosen hospital.


Unfortunately, errors in filling these difficult-to-read physician scribbles are frighteningly frequent. Make sure you know exactly what your doctor prescribed for you before leaving his or her office (including the name of the medicine, the dosage, and the frequency to be taken).

Always check your prescriptions to ensure that what you receive from the pharmacy is what your doctor intended.


Unless you believe in free lunches, avoid choosing “managed care” providers (often referred to as HMOs) if you can. The m_ore treatment you receive from managed-care providers, the more money it costs them. Your health generally is better protected by going to providers who receive a fee for their services. Because they get paid for providing services rather than for withholding them.

What To Do If You Are Injured By A Health Care Provider

If victims of medical malpractice are able to prove that the caregiver’s wrongdoing caused their injuries, they will be entitled to monetary compensation – – money to repay them for what they have lost. Many attorneys will accept such cases on a “contingency fee” basis, that is, taking fees only out of the money they have won for you.

However, medical malpractice law in California is complex, and your success in pursuing such cases depends heavily on finding an excellent attorney to represent you.

-Dr. Steven Heimberg is both a doctor and a lawyer. He is a zealous consumer advocate and an emeritus board member of both consumer attorneys’ associations in California. His diverse background has allowed him to obtain for his clients some of the largest medical verdicts and settlements ever paid in California. He has been nationally recognized for protecting consumers against hospitals, HMOs, and doctors.

*All information and material provided is intended for general information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for Legal advice from an attorney. While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that the information here is current and accurate, you should not rely on this information to pursue any Legal action without first consulting a licensed attorney. the provision of this information and material does not create an attorney-client relationship.