Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

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( — April 5, 2019) — Doctors and healthcare professionals are in a place of power and authority. Patients are taught to listen and accept advice. But what happens when the care and advice they receive is bad? If you feel like you’re a victim of medical malpractice, it’s important that you take action as soon as possible.

What is Medical Malpractice?

According to the American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys, “Medical malpractice occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence might be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.”

Just because an undesirable result stems from a specific medical incident doesn’t necessarily mean there’s malpractice. For something to be considered medical malpractice under the law, it must satisfy each of these characteristics:

  • Doctor-patient relationship existed. For starters, there has to be an established doctor-patient relationship before a claim can be brought forth. In other words, you can bring a case against a doctor that you hired, but you can’t bring a case against a doctor that you overheard giving advice at your son’s baseball game.
  • Violation of the standard of care. The next big piece to the puzzle is the standard of care. By law, there are certain medical standards that are recognized within the profession as being acceptable medical treatment. A patient has the right to expect that the care they receive will be consistent with these standards.
  • Caused by negligence. It must be shown that the doctor responsible for providing a standard of care violated this standard as a result of negligent behavior. In other words, if a patient that dies shortly after a diagnosis of stage four cancer, it’s hard to blame the doctor for the death. If, however, a surgeon went in to remove the tumor and sliced through one of the patient’s vital organs, this could be grounds for a lawsuit.
  • Resulted in significant damages. Finally, there have to be significant damages involved in order for a medical malpractice lawsuit to be filed. Damages can be physical or mental.

Medical malpractice cases are serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly by healthcare professionals, patients, or their families. The first step is recognizing what constitutes malpractice. The next step is knowing what to do when you’re in a situation that calls for legal action.

How Should You Respond?

Medical malpractice cases can involve significant compensation. This may include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and loss of companionship. And if you’re seriously injured, you’ll need this compensation in order to rediscover a certain quality of life.

If you believe you’ve been victimized by medical malpractice, time is of the essence. Not only are there statutes of limitation in your state, but evidence becomes harder to gather as time goes on.

The first step is to hire an attorney who is experienced in the medical malpractice niche and is specifically focused on medical malpractice law within your state. Laws are different nationwide, and it’s important that you’re viewing your situation through state-specific case law and requirements.

You and your attorney should start the process by documenting as much information as you possibly can to build a cause. This includes specific details of your situation, dates and times of visits, insurance information, and any other paperwork you have.

With the assistance of your attorney, you’ll also need to question the doctor to find out what exactly went wrong. Depending on the doctor and the specifics of the case, the medical team may be hesitant to speak with you without their own legal representation.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to pursue a malpractice suit, you’ll want to request thorough medical records from the doctor. This will give you the necessary information to build a case and/or obtain the right care in the future.

Finally, make sure you’re treating your situation with the utmost care and sensitivity. Anything you say – including offhand comments to a receptionist or text messages to a friend – could potentially be used against you in proceedings. Keep this in mind and heed your attorney’s advice above all else.