It’s amazing to see how far modern medicine has come and measured its effects over the years. In the past, life expectancies all over the globe were much shorter than they are in the modern era, and today’s doctors, surgeons, and specialists are able to help us recover and cope with far more conditions and disorders than ever before.
Thanks to modern medicine, people are living longer and enjoying happier and healthier lives, and we can all rely on doctors and nurses, and other medical professionals to provide us with the care and guidance we need when we find ourselves suffering from strange symptoms or unexplained aches and pains.
However, in spite of the vast advancements in modern medicine and the fact that so many people are helped and healed each year, human errors still exist, especially in such a complicated field. Even with their training and expertise, medical professionals can sometimes make mistakes, and the effects of those errors can be devastating.
Studies have shown that up to a quarter of a million deaths occur in the US each year purely because of medical error, showing how a single lapse in concentration a misdiagnosis, or an incorrectly prescribed medication can cause all kinds of disasters. When this happens, it’s legally referred to as medical malpractice, and here’s all you need to know about it.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens if a doctor or healthcare provider causes some kind of injury or even death to a patient through their own negligence, omission, or recklessness. This might be because of an error in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or general health management.
The term essentially applies to any situation where a healthcare organization or professional has failed to provide adequate levels of care to the best of their abilities, leading to actual physical or mental harm to a patient in their care.
Medical malpractice cases can be quite complex, but each one should have these three key characteristics:
- A violation of care – Medical professionals are expected to provide a certain standard of care to their patients, and patients have the right to expect to be treated in accordance with this standard. If this standard is violated in any way, a case of medical malpractice may be built.
- An injury due to negligence or omission – In order for a case to qualify as medical malpractice, some form of injury or harm must have occurred to the claimant. A claimant cannot simply state that a healthcare professional violated the standard of care; they must also be able to show that they personally sustained an injury because of that violation.
- Significant damages – The injury that has been incurred due to a professional’s lack of care or negligence should have caused sufficient and significant damages in order for a case of medical malpractice to be viable. So, for instance, a patient who suffered mild soreness after an operation due to a surgeon’s negligence may not be able to put a case together, as the costs of litigation, deposition, evidence-gathering, and so on would outweigh the damages they sustained and the compensation they could expect to receive. If, however, a person suffers loss of income, serious physical pain, mental trauma, etc. then a case can be established.
What are some examples of medical malpractice?
In order to better understand medical malpractice, it helps to look at a few examples:
- Misdiagnosis of a patient’s illness or injury that leads to the injury or illness getting worse due to lack of treatment.
- Misreading laboratory or test results lead to a patient suffering injuries or further harm from an illness or infection.
- Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong part of the body or damaging other parts of the body during an operation.
- Discharging a patient from the hospital too early or failing to provide adequate aftercare.
- Providing a patient with an incorrect prescription leads to them taking improper medication or the wrong dosage.
What can be done about medical malpractice?
Fortunately, even though cases of medical malpractice can be immensely stressful and scary to experience for both the affected patients and their loved ones, you don’t have to suffer in silence and you can take action to pursue justice and get the compensation you deserve for damages sustained like loss of income, physical pain, and mental distress.
Talk with a Lawyer
The first and most important step of dealing with any kind of medical malpractice situation is to speak with an experienced and qualified medical malpractice lawyer. As stated above, these cases can be immensely complicated, but with the right lawyer by your side, you’ll be able to navigate the challenges ahead more comfortably and with a much better chance of success.
A trained and qualified lawyer will be able to help you understand the ins and outs of the process, as well as telling you how to act, what to do, who to talk to, what to say, what not to say, and so on, guiding you all the way towards the best possible conclusion for your case, and it really helps to find a lawyer you can trust, with plenty of experience in handling similar cases.
It’s also wise to act as fast as you possibly can. Every day that goes by without action being taken can reduce your chances of getting a positive outcome for your case, as evidence can start to disappear, hospitals or healthcare professionals can start to put together their own defensive cases, and so on.
Being involved in a case of medical malpractice is never an enjoyable experience, often wrought with tension and panic, but if you take action and get the right attorney on your side, you can get the justice and compensation you and your loved ones deserve. Hopefully, this guide has helped you develop a stronger understanding of medical malpractice and be better prepared to cope with any situations that arrive in the future.
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