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The media is full of articles saying that if patients pay a bit more attention they will never be subject to medical malpractice. To some people, medical errors only happen when patients let their guard down, but should patients be responsible for their own health care? Can a patient be held responsible when he or she doesn’t have the medical knowledge and expertise of a physician? It is ridiculous to imply that someone in Cleveland with little or no medical knowledge was at all responsible for any medical mistakes that befell him or her.

Nothing proves this more than the story of a physician who lost his leg because of a medical error during a surgical procedure. With more knowledge than the average patient, had the physician noticed anything amiss, it is not inconceivable to think he would speak up. Even after undergoing a surgical procedure on his Achilles tendon, had he realized something was wrong he probably would have taken proactive steps to improve his health. Instead, he was taken by surprise when doctors had to amputate his leg because of a medical mistake.

The physician had needed a minor surgery to his tendon 17 years ago and during the procedure the surgeon used a pressurized cuff that was left on too long. The damage that was caused to his arteries caused them to harden, leading to atherosclerosis. It wasn’t until after doctors were forced to amputate his leg, however, that he realized what had happened so long ago.

No one is responsible for a medical mistake except the physician or hospital staff that makes it. It is preposterous to think that an Ohio patient can be or should be completely responsible for his or her own health. If he or she had the medical knowledge to recognize when a medical error was happening, he or she would not have needed to see a doctor in the first place.