A doctor prescribes a lethal mix of painkillers and psychiatric medications. A mastectomy is mistakenly performed on the wrong woman. A doctor is cited by a medical board, yet is still permitted to practice medicine. How can these situations happen, and why aren’t issues and problems detected sooner? National records show that state boards are slow to act on physicians who continue to practice despite concerns over misconduct: in the forms of inappropriate diagnoses, improperly prescribed medications and unnecessary surgeries.
As a consumer, it is sometimes difficult to know about all the side effects of the drugs our doctors prescribe for our health and well being. We trust these physicians, and we trust their concern and their diagnosis of what ails us. But, as we have found out, medical experts are still permitted to practice even under the worst offenses. This leaves us, as consumers, at times feeling helpless in our quest to live healthy lives.
The responsibility we must continue to have for our own care remains paramount. While we do not need a medical degree to ask questions, we do need some knowledge to ask the right questions. Here are some tips that may help you.
- When you or a family member are confronted with a prescription for a new medication, be sure to always let your doctor know what medications and supplements you are currently taking. Side effects come in all forms.
- Investigate your doctor’s status with the state medical board to answer some of these questions. Has he received a previous citation? Does he abuse drugs himself? Are there public reports among other patients that signal red flags?
- If you begin to feel ill after taking a combination of prescribed drugs, let your doctor know immediately. Seek his advice before you taper off or stop taking those drugs completely.
- Do some investigative research on the drugs you’re prescribed to have some basic knowledge about what to expect while taking it.
- Never be afraid to seek a second opinion.
Our health care should be the primary concern when in the hands of a knowledgeable physician. But, even the best of physicians could have issues or personal problems of his own that cloud judgment and decisions. Being knowledgeable about your own health is your best form of defense.