How to File a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice is an unfortunate consequence of physician-related negligence. This form of personal injury is extremely dangerous because it operates solely within the healthcare realm, making patients’ nightmares about problems like improper anesthetization nearly turn into reality. When a physician who is meant to represent professionality and health-based knowledge, does not exercise the proper discretion in addressing their patient’s needs, they understandably face serious consequences.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is a large umbrella phrase used to describe any situation in which a medical professional breaches their duty in some way. This leaves a lot of room for what can be considered malpractice. Statistically, however, several common types of medical malpractice commonly injure trusting patients.
- Misdiagnosis/Failure to diagnose – This occurs when a medical professional gives an incorrect diagnosis to their patient, which results in improper and/or dangerous treatment. Failure to diagnose prevents the patient from receiving any treatment at all.
- Surgical Complication – Minor flaws in surgery caused by physician negligence can be fatal to patients. This could mean operating on the wrong site, servicing parts of the body that were not agreed upon, or leaving small instruments within the surgical site.
- Improper follow-up care – Physicians that fail to follow up with their patient’s treatment and/or condition could endanger their patient’s life. This also includes discharging a patient too soon or simply not treating a patient properly.
- Birth-related injuries – These injuries occur during the birthing process in which a physician, nurse, or midwife accidentally harms the infant they are delivering. Common birth injuries include nerve damage, cerebral palsy, and other spinal cord-related damage.
- Prescription drug errors – Several different issues characterize drug-related errors. Improper medication, dosage, and/or administration are grounds for medical malpractice.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
Medical malpractice cases fall under personal injury law, in which the claimant possesses the burden of proof regarding how the defendant’s actions caused their injuries. In medical malpractice cases, this can be summarized as such:
- The medical practitioner owed a service to the patient. Part of this service was to provide safe conditions and follow pre-determined guidelines put in place to protect patients.
- The medical practitioner breached this duty in some way.
- The medical practitioner’s actions directly caused the situation that injured the patient.
- The patient sustained verifiable damage.
This plaintiff must provide different forms of evidence that clearly denote that this cause-and-effect chain took place. In medical malpractice cases, this is easiest with the help of an attorney. An attorney utilizes resources like expert witnesses. This means they enlist the help of medical professionals that can comb through your documentation, which can be essential in proving that a medical practitioner fulfill their professional duty to maintain a proper code of ethics and/or safety guidelines.
The legal process can feel messy sometimes, especially when dealing with a field in which you have no professional experience. Keep in mind these key points to remain on top of your case:
- Check in with the physician that you are accusing of medical malpractice. Communicate about the issues you’ve been having and see if options are available before suing. Sometimes, medical professionals offer free reparative services that can help.
- Professionally examine and/or treat your new injuries and obtain your medical records. This is an important form of proof that you can release to your attorney and/or their expert witnesses.
- Read up on your state’s pre-suit requirements. Many states require claimants to submit a formalized pre-suit notice. Some states also require the claimant to obtain some sort of expert opinion before settlement to rule out unnecessary cases that would only cost them money to win.
- Try to settle out of court. Though many individuals picture lawsuits as being solely court-driven options, they aren’t. You have the option to settle with the hospital’s and/or physician’s insurance adjustors outside of the court. In mediation, you and your attorney negotiate a proper dollar figure in compensation to account for your damages. Having an attorney on hand is extremely useful in this scenario, because they can prevent you from accepting an offer that isn’t reflective of your damage.
Medical malpractice incidents tend to hit close to home because of the personal nature of the damages that they cause. When facing a potential case of malpractice, consult with a lawyer and other medical professionals to determine if legal recourse is an appropriate option for your situation.