“I need to ensure that my family has the best medical care possible.”
“What are the right questions to ask my health care provider to make sure the proper steps are being taken and treatment is not being dictated by some insurance company?”
These are the thoughts of empowered individuals who understand the importance of patient safety.
Why do we need a renewed call for patient safety? The current medical system fails to protect patients from doctors known to have poor safety records. New York State alone has nearly 600 uninsurable doctors – most of whom continue to see patients on a regular basis. Further, the lack of accountability and consistent record keeping of doctors’ past performances hinders a patient’s ability to know who is treating them and how good the doctor is.
In turn, patients can unknowingly enter dangerous situations when admitted to the hospital. Doctors are required to perform a “differential diagnosis,” a comprehensive list of all possible causes for a patient’s signs and symptoms, which permits elimination of possibilities as tests are done to rule out the most dangerous until the correct diagnosis is confirmed by objective testing. But in some instances doctors rely on their own experience or gut instinct, missing important signs, symptoms and findings. Compounding the situation, doctors and residents often work unreasonably long shifts and often at night, weekends, or on holidays, the less experienced, younger doctors and residents are on duty.
But medical malpractice is not solely an outcome of bad doctors. The business of medicine can be a hindrance, too. Often, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and the health insurance community limit doctors’ ability to deliver complete and thorough health care. For instance, HMOs and health insurance providers limit patients’ length of stay in hospitals, instead of letting doctors make the final judgment call on what’s best for the patient. Unfortunately, medical care is often seen solely through the prism of profits and losses. A classic example is when HMOs reduce the reimbursement rate, but increase the number of patients a doctor must see fostering dangerous situations for patients.
Duffy & Duffy, a malpractice firm in Long Island, believes in empowering patients. For years, Duffy & Duffy has helped those who suffer from catastrophic injuries sustained through medical negligence – and their families – receive justice.
An advocate for patient safety
The attorneys at Duffy & Duffy work not only for each individual client, but always with the larger idea in sight that curing medical malpractice starts with patient safety. Through their work, Duffy & Duffy aims to empower patients to know that they have a voice when they encounter situations that do not seem right and highlight the importance of patient safety at every medical junction.
The firm was started when James Duffy and his son, Michael, decided to combine their law practices in 2001. It has grown to become an advocate for patients throughout the five boroughs of New York City and the state.
“Throughout the years we’ve welcomed some of the state’s most outstanding trial attorneys to assemble a group of litigators prepared to handle the gamut of medical malpractice cases, including those that are extraordinarily complex, to best serve the community and act as their voice in these difficult times,” said Michael Duffy, managing partner.
Duffy & Duffy’s trial lawyers work together to bring each patient the most knowledgeable team and best outcome possible. The firm’s attorneys are not only experts in matters of the law, but they also take pride in having a team that is extremely well versed in the medical issues that their clients face. This combination has helped the firm win numerous landmark cases and awards for clients through the years, even in many of the state’s notoriously conservative districts. This includes 2007’s highest medical malpractice verdict in the country, a sum of $109 million for a brain-injured man and his wife.
The path to change
In order to empower patients, fundamental changes must occur in how medical treatment is administered.
The Tort system is supposed to be expensive for the wrongdoer. If there is a bad doctor that is sued, the Tort system is supposed to protect patients by making it expensive/difficult for that doctor to practice. Malpractice litigation can advocate for patient’s rights while decreasing the cost of health care because it helps pressure doctors to give better, more thorough care to avoid the impact of long term implications.
Health care providers cannot be fatigued. Laws on the state or federal level need to be instituted similar to the laws that limit a pilot’s length of shift. When something does not seem right, a patient has the right to speak up.
Patients should have the right to know what kind of treatment they’re getting. A centralized database with consistent record keeping of a doctor’s track record and malpractice claims must emerge to allow patients to properly research their doctor. Duffy & Duffy has handled numerous cases in which doctors have not performed a differential diagnosis. If a patient believes their doctor has not been thorough in their examinations and diagnosis, they should feel comfortable asking their doctor how they came to their conclusion.
Doctors and medical administrators should demand that Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) change their practices and rules. Physicians must be compensated accordingly and must take a stand against the insurance companies, health care’s big business, and require that insurance companies allow doctors to treat patients the best way possible, without worrying about whether it will be covered. If there were fewer bad doctors, and therefore less malpractice, insurance rates for good doctors would be lower.
Those who know they have the right to speak up when they feel something is not right are often the healthiest patients.
“Empowering patients to find as much information as possible by asking the right questions and being alert can protect the patient,” added Duffy. “Vigorous pursuit of justice when a patient has not been empowered protects us all.”
For more information contact Michael Duffy at (516) 394-4200 or visit the firm’s website at www.duffyduffylaw.com.