We put a great deal of trust in the doctors, surgeons, and medical professionals we turn to for help when something goes wrong. We rely on these individuals to provide a level of care that we’ve come to expect from those in the field.
However, sometimes this level of care is not received despite our wishes. The sad truth of the matter is that medical malpractice is far more common than we like to think, with hundreds of cases happening across the country each year.
What is medical malpractice and what should you do if you think you or a loved one has been a victim of it? Is it a good idea to sit down with an attorney? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything that you should know.
What is Medical Malpractice?
You might have heard the term medical malpractice thrown around in the past but don’t have a sense of what it is actually referring to.
Medical malpractice occurs when a professional health-care provider exhibits behavior considered outside of the ‘standard of care’ that most medical professionals adhere to.
When we say the standard of care, we mean the kinds of actions that a reasonably responsible doctor or medical provider would’ve taken under the same circumstances.
Often, in medical malpractice cases, many other doctors and professionals weigh in on the behavior of the doctor in question. They decide if their behavior would fall under the umbrella of a reasonable level of care or not.
Most people will refer to these mistakes as medical negligence. If a doctor failed to act in a responsible manner, they’d be negligent under the eye of the law.
It’s important to make distinctions here. A doctor who makes the wrong diagnosis when it is very difficult to diagnose a patient’s symptoms might not be negligent. Other doctors may age that this was a difficult case and the doctor, despite making a mistake, was doing the best they could.
If a doctor were to remove the wrong organ during surgery by mistake, that would be another matter. There’s very little chance other doctors would argue that this anything but a completely negligent action.
As such, this sort of mistake could be major evidence of medical malpractice.
Correlation Between Negligence and Injury
There are also further requirements for a medical malpractice case to be brought forward. In order for a person to bring charges against a medical professional, they’ll need to show evidence of two things.
First, they’ll need to prove that they sustained injuries. Second, they’ll need to prove that these injuries are a direct result of the negligent actions taken by the medical professional.
If a doctor acted negligently but no injuries or damage resulted from these actions, a person would have a very hard time bringing a case forward.
They’ll also need to demonstrate that a professional relationship was established between the patient and the medical professional. You could not, for example, phone a friend who worked as a doctor to get off-hand medical advice and then later sue them for medical malpractice.
Showing the link between an injury and negligent behavior can sometimes be difficult. This is especially true if a good deal of time has passed since the relationship between patient and doctor existed. It’s important to move fast if you want to make a strong case.
Some states even have laws in place that prevent former patients from bringing forward cases after a particular window of time.
Speaking With a Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you think that you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, what steps should you take? Should you take the time to consult with an attorney?
As we’ve discussed above, bringing a case forward against a negligent medical professional can be difficult. Your case must present a great deal of convincing evidence. There’s a chance depending on the evidence you have in your possession that you do not have a case.
However, consulting with an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you to determine if it is worth pursuing a lawsuit. An experienced attorney has likely handled cases just like yours many, many times in the past, and will know what evidence needs to be brought forward to make a convincing argument.
These cases are inherently complicated. An experienced attorney can help navigate complex medical records, piles of legal paperwork, and can connect with you experts in the field who can help support your case.
They will be able to walk you through the process of bringing your claim forward from beginning to end. They will also be able to help you to determine the true value of your case.
It can be hard to land on a compensation total for a medical malpractice case as there are so many different variables in place. There are the costs of further medical care you’ve had to pay for, which is easily quantifiable if very expensive.
But what about less quantifiable costs like pain and suffering? An experienced attorney can help make sure you are really getting what your case is worth.
Understanding Medical Malpractice Cases
If you’ve found yourself asking “what is medical malpractice,” the above information should be very helpful to you. If a medical professional has acted negligently, it’s important to know your rights and what actions you can take following such an incident.
Need someone to talk to about your case? Contact us anytime for a free consultation.