Medical errors are an all-American scourge. 22,000 Americans die every year due to doctors’ mistakes. Hundreds of thousands of others get injured, disabled, and hospitalized as well.
Just one instance of medical malpractice can derail your life. But you’re not helpless. If you understand how malpractice works, you can file a case and make your life more comfortable.
What is medical malpractice, and what are the laws that govern it? What are the signs of malpractice? How are medical malpractice cases built?
Answer these questions and you can start your malpractice case in no time. Here is your comprehensive guide.
Medical Malpractice Laws
Each state has its own set of medical malpractice laws. To determine if you have suffered from malpractice, you need to examine your state’s own laws. You may need to talk to a medical malpractice attorney in order to learn more information.
In general, malpractice is a civil offense, not a criminal one. Doctors may not go to jail for committing acts of malpractice, but you can sue them for financial damage. State boards of health can reprimand doctors, including by taking their medical licenses away.
In order to prove malpractice, you may need to show three things. You must show your treatment was inconsistent with the standard of care. This is the traditional set of medical treatments that doctors prescribe and recognize.
You must show you suffered an injury from the malpractice. Your injury can be a psychological one, though nearly all cases center around physical injuries.
The injury you sustain must result in substantial damages. The injury may have caused a disability that took you away from work or resulted in extreme pain and suffering. You can use medical bills, income slips, and other paperwork to prove your injury and damages.
Nearly all states have a statute of limitations. You must file your case within a few years of the injury, regardless of what the injury was. Some states impose limitations on how much money you can claim at trial, namely for pain and suffering.
Signs of Medical Malpractice
There are a few distinct signs that you are experiencing or have experienced malpractice. Keep in mind that experiencing one or two signs may occur during normal procedures. You should talk to a medical malpractice lawyer if you experience the majority of these signs and have an injury.
No Signs of Improvement
Your condition should improve once you go through a round of treatments. Yet nothing may improve after your treatments are done.
This can mean a few different things. Your doctor may have given you the wrong diagnosis. You have the right treatments for your diagnosis, but your body has a different condition.
Your doctor may be performing the treatments wrong. After a surgery, your doctor may have left an object in your body. They also may have performed the surgery in the wrong location.
Your condition may be getting worse. You may experience extreme complications from a procedure, such as an infection. You also may develop new symptoms, which is a sign your problem is progressing.
Malpractice occurs at many understaffed hospitals and medical facilities. With fewer people on duty, doctors must conduct more procedures by themselves. This means that they may be overworked, which can cause more mistakes and lead to less care for patients.
Many doctors have specialties, focusing on specific parts of the body. A doctor who has a specialty in heart health should not be conducting tests on your brain or kidneys. If your doctor goes outside of their specialty because there are not enough trained doctors, your risk of malpractice is high.
Odd Testing Procedures
Most patients generally receive a series of tests as soon as they enter a hospital. Their doctors may recommend EKGs, ultrasounds, and x-rays to gather information about their medical problems.
Your description of symptoms is important to establish a diagnosis. But it should not be the only information your doctor gathers. Your doctor should conduct a full examination before diagnosing you, and if they don’t, you may have a malpractice issue.
As time goes on, your doctor may need more tests. If you have a tumor or blood clot, your doctor should take images of you to see what is going on. Not getting additional tests is a major sign of malpractice.
Doctors should not take too long to diagnose you. It is okay if they need a few hours to run tests and wait for results. But they should tell you what’s wrong with you and start treatments as soon as possible.
Your diagnosis should make logical sense. If you have pain in your shoulder and your doctor diagnoses you with a foot condition, something has gone wrong. Your doctor may not be paying attention to you, or they may be diagnosing you with something to charge you for pricey treatments.
Your doctor may diagnose you with a rare disease. But in reality, you may have a common one. Conditions like lupus can masquerade as another disease, and your misdiagnosis can lead to dangerous treatments.
Not Taking the Case Seriously
Your doctor should heed what you say. They should take notes on your descriptions of symptoms, and they should address your concerns.
Yet many doctors don’t take complaints seriously. They may tell you that your pain is in your head. They may promise to follow up with you, only to avoid doing so.
If your doctor does diagnose you, they may say that you have a minor condition, like a cold. This is dangerous if you have something more significant. You should transition doctors and prepare a malpractice case if your doctor is dismissing you.
You may get a second opinion from a doctor. They may tell you that your diagnosis was wrong or that you are receiving the wrong procedures. This is a telltale sign of medical malpractice.
Try to get a second opinion from a doctor with a specialty relating to your condition. They are more likely to be reputable than your first doctor.
You may also do your own research online and find a condition that seems like a better fit for you. This may indicate malpractice, but you should go to experts for advice and confirmation.
Lack of Informed Consent
You should give informed consent before any medical procedure, even basic ones. Your doctor should sit down with you and explain what the procedure is. They should also tell you what the complications may be and how the procedure will resolve your condition.
Under no circumstances should your doctor perform a procedure without your knowledge. If they do, you should sue them for malpractice, especially if the procedure injured you.
Some doctors have you sign waivers so you cannot sue if a procedure goes wrong. You can talk to a lawyer to see if a waiver is necessary and learn more about your procedure.
Steps for Building a Malpractice Case
If you look at the signs of medical malpractice and determine you experienced malpractice, you should start building a case. You can take some time to recover from what happened and earn money. You can also talk to your insurer and get compensation for your procedures.
Once you’re ready, you should reach out to a lawyer and schedule a consultation. Before your meeting, gather as much evidence for your case as possible. You should have documents related to your symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.
Your lawyer may determine that you have a case. They will then conduct their own investigation and find witnesses who can vouch for you. Many lawyers have medical experts they go to for support.
While your lawyer prepares a case, you should keep track of the damages. You may develop side effects from your malpractice months after the malpractice has occurred. If your condition changes, get medical help and give new documents to your lawyer.
The Essentials of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is no joke. You can become disabled or experience extreme pain due to it. Cases take place in civil courts, but they can lead to payouts of millions of dollars.
Signs of malpractice include misdiagnoses, unusual treatments, and deviations from common practices. Keep a close eye on your doctor and retain all information related to your case.
Do not hesitate to contact a malpractice lawyer. You should also reach out to your insurer so you can cover initial costs.
Malpractice is more complicated than you think. Read more medical malpractice guides by following our coverage.