For nearly all victims of medical malpractice, it can be a devastating experience with lifelong consequences. According to data at the US National Library of Medicine, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Malpractice claims exist when a medical provider’s negligence leads to injury and damages. Although medical malpractice cases continue to rise, very few offer monetary victory.
In addition, malpractice cases are time-consuming, stressful, and expensive. Less than 15% of all personal injury lawsuits are medical malpractice claims, and nearly 80% of all existing medical malpractice lawsuits result in no payment to the injured party or survivors. Consequently, most experienced attorneys will not file a claim unless the injuries and damages substantially justify it.
Basic Requirements for Filing a Claim
To prove medical malpractice, you must prove the following:
The existence of a patient-doctor relationship. You will have to show that a patient-doctor relationship existed and that you hired the doctor to perform professional medical services. Questions about relationships typically arise when a physician does not have a direct link to the injury, such as a specialist who provided consultation services but did not perform the actual surgery.
The doctor’s actions were negligent. Unfortunately, undesirable results do not constitute medical malpractice. The doctor’s actions must have been negligent with the diagnosis or treatment. To file a malpractice claim, you must prove harm as a result of the negligence. Failing to receive the best care is not a basis for a malpractice claim. According to the courts, the doctor’s actions must be reasonably skillful and careful. In fact, most states require a medical expert to explain the medical standards and elaborate as to how the defendant was negligent.
The doctor’s negligence resulted in injury. All too often, medical malpractice cases will evaluate the individual’s medical history. The question often arises as to whether or not the plaintiff’s medical history contributed or caused the harm. For example, a patient receives treatment for cancer and ultimately dies as a result of the treatment. It’s unclear as to whether the treatment or cancer caused the patient’s death. The patient has to clearly show that the doctor’s incompetence resulted in injury, and the only way of prove this is with the testimony of a medical expert.
The injury resulted in damages. Even if the doctor’s treatment was below medical standards, the patient still has to prove harm. Some examples of harm are physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical expenses, and lost wages.
Here are some steps to avoid falling victim to malpractice.
Do you have a family member or friend to advocate for you? When meeting with a doctor, you may want to bring a relative, friend, or colleague to help speak on your behalf. When you’re sick, it’s good to have someone on your side who can relay important information and ask pertinent questions. That person can probably draw a reasonable conclusion as to whether the doctor is working in your best interest.
Did you question the doctor about treatments, procedures, and follow-ups? Before accepting a diagnosis or agreeing to a surgical procedure, ask the doctor as many questions as possible? If the doctor becomes upset with you for asking questions, you may want to seek out another health professional.
Did you get a second and third opinion? When it comes to surgery, you want a second and third opinion. This certainly holds true if it’s a surgery involving any of the vital organs. With the side effects of various pharmaceutical drugs, it’s also recommended that you do some research along with seeking out verification from other medical professionals.
What to do if you or your loved ones fall victim to malpractice?
Being a victim of medical malpractice can be devastating. You may feel betrayed and confused about what steps to take to restore your health, sanity, and life. There are a variety of resources available to victims of malpractice. Rehabilitative services may also reverse or minimize existing damage. Consult with a personal injury attorney that specializes in medical malpractice. An attorney may help you recover damages.
Summary: This blog article is a down to earth guide on things to consider before pursuing a medical malpractice case. It also examines steps for you and your family to follow to avoid becoming the victim of medical malpractice.