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What questions should I ask my California doctor?

California residents trust their doctors to provide top-notch care and take care of their medical needs. They rely on doctors for their expertise. Despite their expertise, however, doctors do make mistakes, and an alert and involved patient may be able to catch and prevent such a mistake. By asking questions and being an active participant in his or her health care, a patient may be able to prevent medical malpractice.

When a doctor is prescribing a medication, it can be helpful for a patient to be fully aware of why the doctor is prescribing the drug, as well as what the drug does. It may be wise to inquire of a doctor if the drug has the potential for any side effects or may interact with medications a patient is already taking. Knowing the correct spelling and proper dosage of a drug may also help prevent a dosage mistake or other prescription medication error.

A patient who is about to receive a medical test may wish to ask his or her doctor why he or she needs the test or treatment in question, as well as whether there are alternative options. It can be helpful to know when to anticipate the results of a test, as well as any complications that might arise from a procedure. It is certainly acceptable to inquire of a doctor how many times he or she has performed the test in question, as an inexperienced doctor may be more prone to make a mistake during an unfamiliar procedure.

Even the most inquisitive patients cannot prevent all the mistakes of a negligent physician, however. If a patient has been harmed by a medication error or other instance of medical malpractice, he or she may wish to seek legal counsel to discuss options for financial recovery.

Source: ahrq.com, "The 10 Questions You Should Know," accessed Dec. 18, 2015

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