Although most physicians and health care providers do their best to protect the health and safety of their patients, medical errors do happen. Understanding what might constitute medical malpractice and the elements that go into a claim can help you decide whether you may need the assistance of a medical malpractice law firm.
Elements of Medical Malpractice Claims
There are several basic requirements that must be met for a medical mistake to be considered malpractice.
Evidence of a doctor-patient relationship. You must show that you had a patient-doctor relationship with any physician you are suing. In most cases, it is easy to prove that a relationship existed if a doctor is seeing and treating you directly. Things can get murky when someone tries to sue a consulting physician that did not provide direct treatment.
The health care provider was negligent. To have a valid claim for medical malpractice, you must show that the physician caused you harm in a way that under the same circumstances, a competent doctor would not have.
The doctor’s negligence caused the injury. In cases involving patients who are already sick or injured, it can be challenging to prove that a physician’s actions (or inaction) caused harm. That’s why it’s critical to seek the counsel of top-rated personal injury lawyers who are well-versed in handling medical malpractice cases if you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of a medical error.
The injury led to damages. Regardless of whether a doctor was negligent, if a patient did not suffer any harm then there is no medical malpractice case. Some examples of damages that could be compensable include physical pain, additional medical bills, mental anguish, and loss of earning capacity.
Signs That You May Have a Medical Malpractice Claim
The prescribed treatment is not helping you. In some cases, treatment does not work because a patient has been misdiagnosed. This can leave you at risk of becoming more ill or developing further injuries. It can also lead to unnecessary treatments or a patient taking medications with risky side effects for no reason.
Lack of follow-up from your doctor. It can be frustrating when you are given a diagnosis and cannot get your medical provider to address your questions or concerns. If your physician does notfollow up, rushes through without answering questions, or does not give you enough information, your condition could get worse. A competent physician should always take a patient’s concerns seriously and discuss treatment in detail.
You sustained injury due to a surgical or medical error. Every surgery carries some kind of risk. However, if you were hurt or lost a loved one due to an error, medical providers may be held accountable. Some common examples include:
- Infection due to improper sterilization of instruments
- Receiving the incorrect surgery
- Medical instruments being left in the body
- Injuries sustained from your body being carelessly handled during surgery or a hospital stay
- Anesthesia errors
- Improper administration of medication
- Errors or injuries due to understaffing
Lack of informed consent. Your physician should always explain the benefits and risks of any treatment or procedure before performing it. That is why most doctors, dentists, and medical facilities require patients to sign informed consent forms before commencing treatment.