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Medical malpractice can result from doctors protecting doctors

Virtually no Massachusetts resident can avoid interaction with a medical professional at some point in his or her life. When these encounters are for the purposes of a simple check-up or other routine health maintenance, the risk of becoming a victim of medical malpractice seems relatively low. A recently released book authored by a practicing surgeon, however, suggests that there may be plenty to be apprehensive about when it comes to receiving medical treatment.

The book describes a deeply entrenched medical system in which doctors who are known within their profession as inept or incompetent are allowed to continue practicing due to a code of silence under which other medical professionals are unwilling to report poor care. The book also decries physicians who fail or refuse to stay up-to-date on medical innovations or improvements in care. These "dinosaur doctors" may be putting patients at risk by failing to provide the best level of care possible, or by practicing medicine without informing patients that their techniques and skills may be limited to their training decades ago.

When it comes to issues of potential medical malpractice, doctors are not the only ones under the magnifying glass. The book also mentions hospitals as being quite concerned with the bottom line, which could conflict with patient care. Some hospitals may choose to use certain devices or drugs because they receive compensation from the manufacturer.

For patients, this report suggests that one can never be too vigilant in ensuring that they receive the best level of medical care possible. The book advocates that patients inform themselves about their condition, their treatment options and the quality of available doctors. In that way, patients can make the best decision about their care. But when patients are injured due to medical malpractice, it is imperative that patients in Massachusetts and elsewhere find a trusted and reliable source of information regarding their legal rights.

Source: CNN Health, "Exposing the medical 'code of silence'," Libby Lewis, Sept. 21, 2012

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