I have been helping people who have been injured by negligent health care providers, Nursing Homes and Hospitals for years. However, I have also seen many people harmed in the medical system who were injured in ways that were not professionally negligent. The fact is that mistakes are going to happen when people enter the health care arena. Many of the injuries are insignificant, or sometimes not significant enough, to warrant a lawsuit. The purpose of this article is not to discuss professional health care malpractice, but rather to discuss a few practical ways of avoiding it altogether.

One very effective way of not getting hurt in a health care facility is to not go to one. I know this sounds obvious, and almost ignorant, but it bears repeating - you cannot get hurt by in a health care facility if you do not go. I mean this advice in the sense that people have to start understanding that, they must not only take more control of their lives, but they must be a bit more realistic. Many people go to doctors for very minor problems. Others go to carve up their bodies to look better. The common denominator here is that the person who voluntarily enters the health care system might come to wish they hadn’t. The first thing that really needs pointing out is that our Right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness does not mean that we have some God-given right to be perfect. Humans, as extremely complex living beings, have limitations in many areas. One of them is health. We all have a genetic code which defines who we are in almost every way. There is no such thing as a perfect human and, even though this sounds obvious, it really isn’t so obvious to everyone all the time. We have to learn to live with certain problems and accept that we’re not perfect genetic specimens. You have a headache once and a while, too bad, deal with it. No, you probably do not need an MRI. You can’t see 20/20? Only 20/21? You don’t need to get eye surgery. One breast doesn’t exactly match the other? You don’t need to get breast surgery. Putting it bluntly, the health care system isn’t really set up for minor annoyances and God knows it doesn’t have the resources for them. We need to learn to live with some imperfections and not expect that we can be physically perfect. I can’t tell you how many times a patient who partakes in an optional, or cosmetic surgery, ends up looking like a zombie and/or comes down with some infection that spreads throughout their system. There just is no lawsuit conclusion that can justify going through that. Better to avoid it altogether.  I am not advocating that you should never see a doctor, especially for a serious medical condition or emergency, but rather that the choice of going to a medical facility needs to be weighed against the risk.

By following the advice in the above paragraph, you probably saved yourself from almost everything bad healthcare could possibly throw at you. You just learn to live with a little pain, disability, or cosmetic defect because that is the nature of things in this Universe. The concept of perfection, astrophysicists will tell you, does not exist in science as we know it. So best to accept some imperfections and move on. When entering the health care arena for no compelling reason BE VERY, VERY WARY AND BE VERY, VERY AFRAID.

The next thing that can be done is to stop telling everybody that your doctor is the best doctor who ever lived. No he isn’t. You must learn that. You must trust but verify. It never hurts to do some due diligence research on the doctor to find out what his expertise is and isn’t. All doctors are not created equal and the same goes for Nursing Homes and Hospitals. The biggest names of Hospitals are not necessarily the best Hospitals by any means. Don’t look up to them and don’t accept their word as gospel. Be respectful, but it’s usually best to get more than one opinion. It’s also often worth paying for a second, or third,  opinion if your insurance doesn’t cover it. It is better to pay a doctor for an hour of his time than to get hurt both physically, and financially, because you wanted to save a few dollars.  If a doctor tells you something that doesn’t make logical sense, take time to consider. It is obvious that being sick doesn’t make you an expert in your illness, but a good doctor should be able to reduce the medical complexities a format which makes some logical sense to the average person. Never be afraid to politely question what you’re being told. There is no need to get hostile, but you can, and should, stand your ground where you feel it is warranted. A good doctor should always accept and understand this. After all, your health is the most important thing you have.

 U.S. News and World Report is a resource that lists hospitals nationwide. It details what they medical cases they see and practice most. They have Best Hospitals and Best Children’s Hospitals, as well as, U.S. News Doctor Finder. Checking Web sites such as Medicare’s HospitalCompare.hhs.gov and LeapfrogGroup.org is also helpful. A publication called HealthCareBlueBook.com lists pricing in your area.  

Working to stay healthy is your responsibility. There is no easy way around this. By engaging in regular, reasonable exercise and diet, getting sleep and avoiding stress, drugs, tobacco and alcohol, you do a lot to prevent sickness and disease. Life truly is not a sprint but rather a marathon. The person who takes responsibility for his/her well being over the long haul has a huge advantage and usually wins. That person doesn’t generally need doctors very often. Most of us want to belong to something, but being an outsider of the medical system is good for you.