Medical Mayhem: 5 Important Things to Remember in a Malpractice Case

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Studies show that mistakes in hospitals and other healthcare centers claim 251 000 lives every year. This figure is higher than that for accidents, respiratory disease or stroke.

If your medical treatment or that of a loved one doesn’t go as planned, you may be wondering if you have recourse. It is possible that you could sue for medical malpractice if certain strict conditions are met. Let’s break things down a bit.

Image By University of Michigan Medical School Information Services – Standardized-Patient-Program-examining-the-abdomen, CC BY 2.0, Link

Medical malpractice defined

The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys defines medical malpractice as “when a hospital, doctor or other healthcare professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient”. The board states that the negligence can result from errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.

Examples of medical malpractice or negligence include the following:

  • Failure to recognize symptoms
  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis
  • Failure to order proper testing
  • Improper medication or dosage
  • Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Poor follow-up or aftercare
  • Surgical errors or wrong site surgery
  • Premature discharge

These can often be difficult for the average person to prove  so you will need an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice lawsuits. Malpractice lawsuits can be expensive and time-consuming. They often require several hours of testimonies from experts and dispositions. The patient or relative is required to show that significant damage resulted from the injury and it caused unusual pain and suffering, disability, loss of earnings or significant financial cost. If the damages are small, the lawsuit may not worth the costs. That’s why some firms like Tittle Law Firm only take on major cases.

Things to remember

Despite your lack of legal expertise, there are five things you should bear in mind if you are considering bringing a medical malpractice case.

  1. In order for an occurrence to be considered medical malpractice, there must be a violation of the standard of care, an injury must be caused by the negligence and the injury must result in significant damage.
  1. Poor, unsatisfactory or unexpected outcomes don’t necessarily mean there has been malpractice. You must be able to prove that the medical professional was negligent. Complications like bleeding or infection can occur even in the absence of malpractice.
  2. You can bring a malpractice suit against any medical health professional and not just doctors. This includes nurses, midwives, therapists, chiropractors, hospitals and clinics. If you’re unsure about whether your situation is valid, consult your attorney.
  3. Each state has its own statute of limitations which governs the time frame in which you can file a malpractice lawsuit. The range is generally between two and four years but there are several factors which can impact specific cases. Consideration is sometimes given to when the alleged malpractice occurred and when the injury was discovered.
  4. The factors that can cause the time to vary are as follows: the number of parties involved, the number of depositions and investigation needed, schedules and commitments of experts, the schedule of the court, and so on.

Medical malpractice is a serious matter. Negligence claims thousands of lives per year and forces many to live less than optimal lives. If you believe you or a relative has been the victim of negligence medical practice, you should consult a lawyer.

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