Have you been a victim of medical malpractice or medical negligence? Maybe you are not sure if what you experienced counts as medical malpractice. Were your symptoms ignored when you first brought them up and only acknowledged when you visited a different health practitioner or when you returned a second time? Are you feeling afraid and confused and unsure of what you should do about the physical or emotional harm you suffered as a result of a medical professional’s treatment? You are not alone.
In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) cites medical negligence as the third leading cause of death in the United States. Over three billion dollars was spent in medical malpractice payouts in 2012 (which works out to about one payment every 43 minutes).
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical Malpractice occurs whenever a health-care provider deviates from the standardized methods of care during the treatment of a patient. Basically, if they were negligent or did something differently than they normally would have done with another patient in the same or similar condition. Quite often, ignoring a patient’s symptoms can be considered negligence. For example, let’s say someone goes to the hospital because of chest pain. Let’s say they were sent home with no instruction to monitor or return if it persisted or got worse. They later have a heart attack. This can count as medical malpractice.
Victims Of Medical Malpractice
A victim of medical malpractice is someone who has experienced injury or damage due to an act of medical malpractice. It is important to note that experiencing a negative outcome of medical treatment does not automatically mean medical negligence was present. Sometimes a medical professional can follow the appropriate standards and still come to a false conclusion or treatment plan.
When it comes to proving medical malpractice, occasionally the victim is told by a current health-care provider that the previous one gave negligent medical care. Sometimes a victim is told by the person who committed the malpractice that a mistake was made. Psychiatric malpractice can be especially difficult to identify or prove. Insurance companies tend to prefer settling with the injured person directly. There are many reasons for this, but often it can be because a settlement can be agreed upon quickly before the full extent of the injuries is revealed, saving the company from having to make a higher payout later on.
When considering a lawsuit, it is important to understand that prosecution can be expensive, stressful, and time-consuming, and sometimes the result is not what you were hoping for.
Typically, you’re going to need four things proved in order to establish a malpractice lawsuit:
- A medical professional-patient relationship existed.
- The medical professional breached the “standard of care.”
- The patient suffered harm (either physical or mental).
- The harm was the result of the negligence.
What To Do If You Are The Victim Of Medical Malpractice
You may be wondering what you can do as the victim of medical malpractice. If you have experienced harm as a result of medical negligence, you might be entitled to financial compensation to help you cope with the physical and economic damages you have suffered. You might also feel obligated to ensure the same negligence does not occur to other patients who seek medical treatment after you.
Reach Out To A Malpractice Attorney
First and foremost, you should reach out to a malpractice attorney. Many offer free consultations. A consultation will allow an attorney to review the details of your particular case and let you know whether they are able to act on your case.
Keep State Licensing In Mind
You should also be aware that the process can be different state by state, not just the rules regarding the legal side of the situation, but also the medical standards. This means it is usually in your best interest to seek the advice of an attorney who is licensed in the state where the malpractice occurred (even if you live elsewhere).
Watch Out For Overpromising
Steer clear from attorneys who promise results. It is completely acceptable for an attorney to discuss with you which outcomes are likely, or what they expect to happen, but no attorney can guarantee a certain end result. If someone does this, seek out another attorney.
Consider A Firm With Medical Professionals On Retainer
Some medical malpractice law firms also have medical professionals on staff who will assist in the review of your case and help the firm evaluate whether a lawsuit is viable and if any additional information is needed. Depending on your situation, this might be something that you would like.
Deciding whether or not to pursue a lawsuit can be daunting and overwhelming. This being said, every state has restrictions on how long after the medical treatment a lawsuit can be brought forward. Because of this, it is wise to seek out a consultation with an attorney sooner rather than later. The attorney will give you an idea of how long you have to make your decision.