Suspecting Medical Malpractice? Here’s what to do next

scientistWhen you attain the service of a healthcare professional, by law they are bound to meet your medical requirements to the best of their abilities. Yet, there are instances of medical negligence by healthcare professionals causing damage to patients. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of the negligence of a healthcare provider, it could be time to seek legal counsel. But before that, you need to understand what medical malpractice is and what to do when such incidents occur.

What is medical malpractice?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, medical malpractice is defined as professional negligence committed by a doctor, physician, surgeon, pharmacist, nurse, hospital/care home attendant or any other professional healthcare provider. It occurs when a doctor/physician fails to treat properly and/or the treatment provided is below the accepted standard (predefined by medical community), or neglects the treatment of a medical condition which causes death or injury to the patient.

Examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Accidents or mishaps related to surgery or anaesthesia
  • Failure or delay in diagnosing a disease or medical condition
  • Lack of informed consent prior to a surgical procedure or operation
  • Failure to treat the medical condition properly even after a correct diagnosis

To claim compensation, the patient or the injured party needs to prove that negligence has occurred and that the healthcare professional has deviated from the accepted standard during the medical treatment, which actually caused the injury or death.

Medical malpractice is a serious issue; it is a breach of trust between the medical professionals and the patient. An article published in Journal of the American Medical Association ranks medical negligence as the third leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer, . Forbes published another article stating that more than $3 billion were spent in 2012 as payouts for medical malpractice, an average of one payout every 43 minutes.

How to determine medical malpractice?

If you are experiencing a dramatically different or unanticipated result of the surgery or treatment you or someone you know have undergone, it is likely that medical malpractice has occurred. This is just an indicator and unfortunate results such as unexpected death of the patient may also occur. Regardless, the healthcare provider must give a good explanation for the situation. And such statements are considered as strong indicators while determining a case for medical malpractice.

However, it is quite tricky and at times extremely challenging for patients or injured party to determine whether or not medical malpractice has occurred in the eyes of the law. Thus, if you are suspecting that medical negligence or malpractice has occurred, it is recommended to meet a competent lawyer and schedule a consultation.

Do you need a lawyer?

As mentioned, medical malpractice issues are extremely serious and, at the same time, difficult to prove. Furthermore, they should not be taken lightly. Though it is not possible to undo your pain, you can recover the costs associated with the treatment or medical procedures (that caused the injuries) along with claiming other types of damages.

If you are suspecting medical malpractice, my advice would be to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, specializing in medical negligence and malpractice litigation, to help you file a claim and represent you in the court. Most law firms provide free of charge consultation and an experienced attorney can easily help you determine whether or not you have been a victim of medical malpractice in the very first consultation.

Based on that, you can initiate further investigation. It is important to seek legal consultation as soon as possible as there is statute of limitations associated with medical malpractice, which is a time limit of a year from the date of injury or after the discovery of the damage or the injury.

If the claim has a reasonable chance of success, the medical malpractice attorney will help you create a plan of action, which includes obtaining relevant medical records, interviewing medical experts for second or third opinion to determine the standard of care and medical treatment/procedure.

How to relay important information to your medical malpractice attorney?

You need to provide thorough details of the case. The attorney needs to secure pertinent medical records as well as interview the patient, family members and friends to determine the plan of action.

To provide a detailed review of the case, compile all the related documents including the prescriptions and other medical records of the doctor, the statement of the healthcare professional regarding the treatment, medical receipts, hospital bills, prior and subsequent treatment records, and other related contact information. If there are any missing records, notify your attorney as it might point towards possible medical negligence or malpractice.

If possible, write down the account of the incidents chronologically. It will help your attorney determine the liability of the doctor. Besides, medical malpractice litigation requires a deposition of witnesses to support your testimony.

In most cases, the healthcare provider offers a settlement, depending on the issues. A sum of money offered to compensate for the loss or injury caused. In case of a settlement, both the parties need to keep silent about the matter after the compensation amount has been paid in full. A trial follows when both the parties fail to reach a settlement.

Author Bio:

Michael Georgiou is a dynamic business and marketing professional in the marketing division of Wilson Law, PA based in Raleigh, NC. He is an entrepreneurial guru with a proven success record in creative strategy, online branding, project management, and communication projects in both public and private sectors.

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