When you visit the doctor or go under the knife for a simple procedure, you expect to leave in better shape than you came. If nothing else, you expect your team of healthcare professionals to make smart choices regarding how they care for you. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen – and the results can be catastrophic.
What is Medical Malpractice?
“Not all negative outcomes are the result of medical malpractice. Malpractice occurs only when a medical professional fails to adhere to an applicable standard of medical care, and an injury or death occurs as a result,” Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. explains. “In other words, the medical professional failed to do what a reasonably careful professional would have done if facing the same or similar circumstances.”
Common types of medical malpractice include birth injuries, surgical errors, medication errors, misdiagnoses, issues with anesthesiology, radiology mistakes, emergency room errors, and nursing errors. Sometimes it’s immediately apparent that a mistake was made. Other times, it’s not always quite so obvious.
5 Steps You Can Take
If you suspect that you’ve been a victim of medical malpractice, there are some specific steps you should take towards solving the problem and holding the appropriate parties accountable for their actions. Take a look:
Document Everything You Can
Medical malpractice cases aren’t decided on hearsay or opinions. If you want to build a case, you’re going to need plenty of evidence. And the easiest time to gather this documentation is soon after the malpractice has occurred.
“Whether you’re planning a malpractice suit or not, you should always keep a copy of your medical records on hand. Not only will they be invaluable to building a case, it’s a smart way to take ownership of your health and empower yourself to reference your medical history as well as change your care provider in the future,” SpinalCord.com explains. “Be sure you get your hands on all X-rays and other documents that may require additional action to acquire.”
Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
There’s nothing simple or easy about a medical malpractice situation. If you think you have a case – or even if you aren’t sure – it’s important that you speak with an attorney who specializes in these cases. Initial consultations with most medical malpractice lawyers are free, and you can typically find out pretty quickly whether or not there’s something worth pursuing.
Be open, honest, and transparent with your attorney about everything. The more information you provide up front, the fewer logistical issues and friction you’ll experience later on.
You aren’t a passive bystander in your medical malpractice case. While you may have hired an attorney to handle the big picture, you still play a role in whether or not your claim is successful. By adopting an inquisitive posture, you can truly play an active role.
For starters, you should ask your doctor and medical team as many questions as possible (as soon as you realize there’s an issue). They’ll either be forthcoming, or you’ll sense they’re hiding information.
You also need to ask your attorney questions and get clarification on anything you aren’t sure about. You have a right to understand what’s happening and shouldn’t be left in the dark.
Know Your Limitations
Don’t just assume that you can sit back and wait to file a medical malpractice claim. Every state has its own set of limits on when cases must be filed. Known as statues of limitations, they can creep up on you and force you to waive your rights if you aren’t careful.
Focus on Getting Better
At the end of the day, your primary focus is on getting better. Trusting that your attorney will handle all of the logistical details of the legal case, spend your time resting, recuperating, and seeking healing. Nothing matters more than your health.
Don’t Delay in Taking Action
In the aftermath of a medical malpractice situation, it’s often hard to think clearly. And while it’s easy to say from the outside looking in, make sure you don’t delay in taking action. The sooner you respond, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to form a viable case that holds the appropriate people and institutions responsible for what happened.