Medical malpractice may mean considerable losses to the patient, not to mention a much-extended road to recovery. However, establishing medical malpractice can prove much more difficult than you initially expected. To prove medical malpractice, you will need to establish several critical details about the medical malpractice event and the provider that committed that act of malpractice. Establishing the claim is one of the many things an experienced medical malpractice lawyers does. Learn more about you potential claim from our medical malpractice attorneys
1. You had a doctor/patient relationship with the provider.
To file a medical malpractice claim
, you will need to show your relationship with the provider. A doctor can only commit medical malpractice against you if that doctor treats you in some way.
If you have an existing relationship with a provider that you contracted to provide treatment for you—a doctor who has records of your case and your visits to the office—you have a doctor/patient relationship with that provider and could file a claim for acts of malpractice committed against you.
2. The doctor committed an act of negligence in your care.
Malpractice does not mean that you did not get the results you hoped for from your medical treatment. In some cases, even with the best care a doctor can provide, you may not heal as much as you had hoped or solve the problem as you had hoped. To file a medical malpractice claim, you must show that the doctor committed some sort of action in your care that a reasonable, competent care provider would not have committed.
As you file a medical malpractice claim, you will likely need to show that the doctor violated the appropriate medical standard of care
based on the type of ailment and symptoms you presented with and the steps a reasonable care provider would have taken.
Negligence could mean one of several things.
The doctor failed to properly diagnose your ailment.
occurs when a doctor diagnoses an ailment incorrectly. To show that you have grounds for a misdiagnosis claim, you may need to show that another physician, under the same set of circumstances and presented with the same symptoms, would have diagnosed you with your actual condition and not the wrong one.
On the other hand, failure to diagnose
occurs when a doctor listens to your symptoms, which should clearly indicate a specific condition or the need for a specific type of treatment, but does not diagnose you with any condition at all. Women and minorities experience between 20 percent and 30 percent higher rates of failure to diagnose and misdiagnose each year.
The doctor failed to properly treat your ailment.
You presented with the symptoms necessary to issue a specific diagnosis. You may even have received an accurate diagnosis. However, the doctor failed to provide treatment for your ailment or offer treatment based on your medical needs.
The care provider failed to offer you the information you needed about the treatment offered.
Sometimes, a care provider might offer you a treatment option that does not fit your needs and desires. You might, if given all the information about the potential side effects and long-term impact of that treatment, choose not to go through with it at all. Unfortunately, your care provider does not provide you with that information, which means that you may find yourself dealing with considerably more side effects in the future.
The care provider committed a dangerous error during surgery or in the course of your care.
occur most often during surgery and include substantial errors in treatment that may cause severe and costly damage to the patient. Never events might consist of, for example, operating on the wrong body part, leaving foreign matter behind in the body, or making a major medication error.
The doctor failed to properly care for the mother and/or infant during childbirth.
Birth trauma, including serious injury to either mother or infant, occurs in an estimated 1.9 per 1,000 live births across the United States.
Birth trauma can occur either due to a lack of interventions during childbirth when needed or due to unnecessary interventions that cause more trauma to either mother or child.
3. The doctor’s negligence led to some type of injury.
Sometimes, you might get lucky: even though a doctor failed to exercise proper precautions or did not offer the high standard of care you deserved, you might not have suffered long-term impacts.
For example, your doctor might have diagnosed the wrong infection, but the antibiotics prescribed for another infection helped you recover anyway. A doctor might have failed to diagnose you with a severe injury, but you persisted and received the standard of care you needed. Perhaps your doctor committed a major error in your overall standard of care, but you healed without significant medical intervention.
If you suffered medical negligence but did not suffer an injury as a result, you might not have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Types of injuries may vary. You may, for example:
Require additional treatment for another condition or an injury caused by a medical care provider.
Often, injuries caused by a medical care provider will leave you needing additional treatment, including costly medical bills that will continue to increase due to the error in your care. You may end up paying for treatment you do not need due to misdiagnosis (and suffering the associated side effects of that treatment despite not having the condition in question).
Have ongoing pain related to the medical error.
Sometimes, medical errors can cause substantial, ongoing pain in your life. You may have significant pain related to a botched surgery or procedure, or due to the side effects of a medication or treatment that you did not need. The greater the error, the more pain you may have related to that injury.
Suffer ongoing limitations because of the negligent actions of a medical care provider.
If the surgeon operates on the wrong body part, for example, you may lose significant mobility or strength. You may have increased weakness due to that unnecessary surgical procedure. If the surgeon amputates the wrong body part, you may still have to have the original limb amputated, which could lead to even more challenges during both your recovery and the rest of your life.
Damages from medical malpractice can prove temporary or permanent, depending on the actions committed and their impact on your body and health.
What Must You Do to Prove Medical Negligence?
Establishing medical negligence may prove considerably more complicated than the average personal injury claim. Medical malpractice often relies on expert information, including the standard of treatment for specific types of ailments, conditions, or symptoms.
Work With a Lawyer
If you have suffered any type of damages due to medical malpractice, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can start by taking a comprehensive look at your claim and what you may need to do to effectively secure the compensation you may deserve for your injuries. A lawyer can also help connect you to experts that can help establish that you suffered medical malpractice.
A lawyer, furthermore, can advocate for you as you move through the medical malpractice claim process and get a better idea of how your claim will proceed. Often, you may find yourself dealing with aggressive medical malpractice insurance companies that want to minimize the compensation they have to pay out for physician error. They may try to prove that the doctor did not actually commit malpractice against you, despite the damages that you may have sustained, or even try to prove that you did not suffer the limitations you claimed following the incident. A lawyer can serve as your advocate and support, from dealing with the medical malpractice insurance company on your behalf to helping establish the vital proof you need in your medical malpractice claim.
You May Have Your Claim Reviewed By a Medical Malpractice Review Panel
Often, you will need to have your claimer reviewed by a medical malpractice review panel before you can move forward with your claim. You will need to submit your claim to a panel full of medical experts, who can rule on whether you have suffered medical malpractice, based on the conditions you have described.
The medical malpractice review panel acts as one determining step on the road to compensation: a step that you often must take before you can pursue further compensation from the insurance company.
The panel may offer a ruling on whether malpractice took place, but will not determine what compensation you might deserve or even whether you will receive compensation through the doctor’s medical malpractice insurance. Instead, the medical malpractice review panel serves as a vital first step in the process of seeking compensation for medical malpractice.
On the other hand, if the medical malpractice review panel determines that you do not have grounds for a medical malpractice claim, you might no longer have the right to move forward with the claim.
You May Need an Expert to Testify
In medical malpractice claims, you may need an expert, often another doctor, to testify about why your provider’s actions constituted medical malpractice. Frequently, that expert’s testimony serves to establish the usual medical standard of treatment in a specific type of case. The expert might then show how your care provider deviated from that standard of treatment. The expert’s testimony will help establish the full extent of the malpractice you suffered and the damages you faced as a result.
Finding a reputable medical expert to testify on your behalf can prove difficult in some cases. Working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney, who has worked with medical experts in the past, may offer your best chance of finding the right medical expert for your needs.
Only rarely can you avoid having an expert witness testify about the extent of the medical malpractice you suffered, including cases of gross surgical negligence.
You May Need to Present Your Medical Records
Your medical records will serve to indicate exactly what happened and how that act of malpractice influenced the course of your life. You may have to provide those medical records, including records from the initial consultation with your doctor, patient records showing that you have a doctor-patient relationship, and any records from the date of the medical malpractice event.
Furthermore, you may need to show any medical records from after the event, which will serve to establish the extent of the damage you sustained due to that act of malpractice. A lawyer can help determine what records you will need to show the full extent of the medical malpractice you suffered.
Medical malpractice claims often prove particularly complex. You may need to present significant evidence and ensure that you have a witness to testify about the extent of that malpractice. Working with a lawyer may offer your best chances of fully and accurately establishing the extent of the medical malpractice you suffered. Contact
a medical malpractice attorney as soon after the incident as possible.