By Elizabeth Kaveny

In today’s medical climate, coverage and convenience often play a crucial role in decision making, Elizabeth Kaveny, Managing Partner with Kaveny + Kroll, one of Chicago’s most respected and experienced Medical Malpractice firms, comments on the recent LeapFrog study that rated Chicago area hospitals regarding patient safety.

“To help assure yourself the best care, it’s important to do your homework and serve as your own ‘Medical CEO’ when making potentially life changing decisions,” says Kaveny. “While the rating of the hospital where you may be receiving care is important, it’s even more important to remember that you are not being treated by a building but by individual providers.”

Kaveny notes that we are lucky to have a number of fine healthcare facilities in and around Chicago, some of which are teaching hospitals, which are often considered the ideal in offering the most comprehensive care for the most difficult cases. But, nonetheless, teaching hospitals pose their own issues including care which may be delivered by not only your provider, but a bevy of resident doctors and interns who are there to learn.

“Many patients try to achieve a ‘one stop shop’ when it comes to their healthcare, something we do not recommend based on our experience,” says Kaveny. “While your primary physician may make all referrals ‘in house’ and suggest ‘continuity of care’, many times, this is about convenience and allegiance to their own health system. In a rapidly changing and dynamic medical and scientific environment, you may have to go the distance for the best diagnosis depending on your condition, even if that distance is across town or further. The goal is to get the best care for you and your family, not the easiest.”

Kaveny recommends doing your research starting with Google, Medical ratings websites and recommendations from friends, family and those that are specifically dealing with your condition. “Word of mouth still remains one of the best ways of locating the best care,” says Kaveny.

Once you locate a physician, remember:
1) Be Honest in retelling your past, present and what you expect for your future
2) Ask about their experience in your particular condition
3) It’s okay to ask if they have been sued! A physician who responds negatively may be a red flag.
4) Ask about the possible complications that could occur, with your condition or their treatment

But, remember, the ‘visit’ goes both ways. “A good physician works from the SOAP model,” says Kaveny. “This allows for the most thorough view of a patient, their condition(s) and concerns. It can also be a checklist for patients in evaluating their physician experience.”

S – Subjective (Patient History)
O – Objective (Exam)
A – Assessment by Physician
P – Plan of Treatment/Management

Finally, medicine is, unfortunately, not a science that offers 100% reliability, even in the best case scenarios. “Regardless of hospital ratings, remember that unfortunately, every hospital you visit, will have faced their share of mistakes…and lawsuits,” says Kaveny. Your task is to minimize your risk with a provider that you trust to guide you through the process.”