Medical malpractice is more common than most people realize. Did you know that it’s the third leading cause of death in the United States? It falls right behind heart disease and cancer.
As a result of this injustice, medical malpractice lawsuits often arise. Billions are paid out every year in malpractice claims, and this is an important part of rectifying the problem.
According to Indiana-based law offices of Baker & Gilchrist, who have seen more than 60 combined years of medical malpractice cases, malpractice suits are an essential part of preventing future patient injuries.
“Many patients harmed by doctors or hospitals are reluctant to come forward,” says an article on their website. “By pursuing a malpractice claim, you may save other patients from suffering similar injuries”
If you’ve ever been the victim of a medical mistake, it’s important that you come forward.
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Use this guide to help you determine if you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice.
Medical Malpractice Defined
Generally, medical malpractice occurs whenever a medical professional deviates from the recognized “standard of care” when treating a patient.
“The standard of care is defined as what a reasonably prudent medical provider would or would not have done under the same or similar circumstances,” a Virginia attorney told Forbes. “In essence, it boils down to whether the provider was negligent.”
If that negligence causes damage or injury to the patient, it can be considered a medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice can be difficult to prove in some cases because “the standard of care” is such a broad definition. However, an experienced attorney can help uncover the truth about the situation and help you earn justice for yourself and others.
Types of Medical Malpractice
“A wide variety of situations can lead to a medical malpractice claim—from a doctor leaving a sponge in a patient’s stomach during an operation to failing to tell a patient that a prescribed drug might cause heart failure,” writes Coulter Boeschen for Nolo.com.
Boeschen then outlines several other common types of medical malpractice including, failure or delay to diagnose, improper treatment, failure to warn the patient of known risks.
Malpractice may also be associated with a birth injury, surgical errors, or a medical product liability. If you’ve been a victim to any of these situations in the past, speak with your lawyer as soon as possible regarding your options.
Basic Requirements for a Claim
A poor outcome of medical treatment does not always cause for a medical malpractice suit. There are certain requirements that must be met for it to be considered malpractice. You must have proof of the following:
- There was a clear medical relationship between the doctor and the patient.
- The care given fell below the accepted medical standard of care. In other words, there was medical negligence.
- Quantifiable damages, such as injury or death, occurred as a direct result of treatment.
- There is a causal connection between the care provider’s administration of care and the patient’s harm.
If your situation included all these elements, you have a medical malpractice case on your hands, and you’ll want to seek representation from a qualified and experienced attorney in your area.
What’s Not Medical Malpractice
It’s important to note that some things are out of the doctor’s hands, and medical professionals cannot be blamed for the outcome. It’s not considered medical malpractice if:
- The patient’s case worsens during treatment. Unless you can prove that the condition worsened because of something the healthcare provider did (such as delaying diagnosis, misreading lab results, or administering the wrong medication), it cannot be construed as medical malpractice.
- The patient’s condition is untreatable. Unfortunately, not all conditions can be treated or cured. There’s nothing that the doctor can do about it, and it does not fall beneath the acceptable standard of care.
- The doctor was rude to the patient. This is an unfortunate circumstance, but there is no quantifiable harm, so failing to get along with your doctor does not fall into the category of medical malpractice.
“Simply put, medical malpractice laws aren’t in place to offer a remedy for the unfortunate (but sometimes unavoidable) health care outcomes such as terminal illnesses and deaths,” explains David Goguen, J.D., in an All Law article. “They’re in a place to provide legal protection when the treatment that a patient is given falls short of acceptable standards of medical care.”
If you’ve finished this guide and believe you have a medical malpractice case on your hands, contact an attorney in your area right away! There is a statute of limitations in your state, meaning that you must file a case before the time limit elapses. You can’t go wrong seeking a consultation from a qualified and experienced attorney near you.
Featured image source: Freepik