How to Detect Medical Malpractice
Posted in Medical Malpractice on July 15, 2018
Doctors, nurses, and all other healthcare providers owe a duty of care to their patients. This means that they must adhere to an established standard of care when diagnosing and treating a disease or other condition. Deviating from this standard provides the basis for negligence, and may give rise to a medical malpractice claim. However, it can be difficult for some patients to know if they’ve been a victim of medical malpractice. Many patients visit their providers because they’re sick and don’t know how to manage their condition on their own. Knowing the basics of medical malpractice can help patients determine if negligence occurred so they can seek further legal assistance.
The Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim
To file a medical malpractice claim, a victim must be able to show proof of the following elements:
- The provider owed the patient a duty of care. Generally, this occurs when a patient officially enters an in-office relationship with a provider.
- The provider violates his or her duty of care by committing negligence. The standard of care depends on the circumstances, but the generally established principle is that a provider commits negligence when a similarly trained, competent professional testifies that he or she would have acted differently, considering the circumstances.
- The provider’s negligence led directly to the victim’s injuries, such as a worse health outcome.
- He or she incurred damages as a result. Examples of damages include medical bills, lost wages, or additional costs of future care resulting from a worse health outcome.
Warning Signs of Medical Malpractice
Since healthcare is such a varied and wide-ranging practice, it can be difficult for victims to pinpoint when medical malpractice may have occurred. However, every person can be on the lookout for certain warning signs that may call for a meeting with an attorney to explore options for legal recourse.
In some cases, the consequences of medical malpractice will be easy to recognize, such as a surgical error or amputation of the wrong limb. These cases, however, represent the tiny minority of medical malpractice. More commonly, medical malpractice arises from misdiagnosis of a condition or medication errors. Generally, patients can be advocates for their own healthcare and be on the lookout for some warning signs of medical malpractice, such as:
- Lack of improvement of symptoms or the symptoms worsen
- The person in charge of care appears unwilling to answer questions or suddenly refers the patient to another medical professional without warning
- A patient does not receive proper care or follow up following a procedure or diagnosis
It’s also important for patients to realize that they play an important role in the delivery of their own healthcare. It’s a patient’s responsibility to:
- Convey any relevant healthcare history and maintain honest, open communication with his or her healthcare provider
- Follow all provider instructions carefully, including taking all prescribed medications and following all instructions following a medical procedure or hospital stay
- Not interfere with the prescribed course of treatment by supplementing with other methods without speaking to his or her provider first, as this might negatively affect the treatment plan.
Medical malpractice can be especially difficult to detect when illnesses and injuries fail to respond to treatment. Additionally, it may be difficult for a patient to determine if the side effect or complication came from medical malpractice or if it is a known effect of the procedure or medication itself. For this reason, it’s helpful for any victim of medical malpractice to seek advice from an attorney. A medical malpractice lawyer can help victims determine if negligence occurred and hold the accountable party responsible for his or her actions.