Health care professionals dread being accused of medical malpractice. Even if the accusation is false, it can be devastating both personally and professionally. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from these claims, and a good medical malpractice lawyer can suggest avenues of defense that can help to bring the case to the desired outcome.
Complete and up-to-date medical records
As they say, the best defense is a great offense. In terms of medical care, this means thorough documentation of every case, and of course, up-to-date charts. Your medical office must have and enforce a standard method of documenting cases that everyone in the office is required to follow. Do not leave charts to be finished at a later date, as they may not get finished properly. If any change or correction is made to a chart, you must document when and by whom it was made. Should you be the focus of a medical malpractice claim, do not alter the charts pertaining to that patient.
Obtaining effective representation
Do not ignore a lawsuit, as it won’t just “go away.” If you are accused of medical malpractice, you must seek a medical malpractice attorney with trial experience, as any case may go to trial. Your pi attorney is your most significant ally, and it is advisable to bring him or her in as soon as you are aware of a legal action against you.
Making time for your defense
Health care professionals are busy, and they rarely have any time for anything other than caring for patients. However, if you are accused of medical malpractice, you must find adequate time to assist your attorney in preparing your defense. If your attorney requests information from you, it is very important that you respond promptly and not make the attorney wait for information that could be critical in forming a successful defense.
Speaking of defenses, there are several types of defense strategies that have proven effective:
Accepted standard of care– Prove that your actions were within the accepted standard of care in your specialty and geographic location. The first thing a plaintiff’s attorney will look for is actions that do not meet the accepted standard of care, or inactions that rendered your care outside the accepted standard of care.
Cause of injury – Disprove that your actions caused the injury. Sometimes there is no factual correlation between treatment and the alleged injury. This is a defense that can work even if an error has occurred.
Emergency care – Prove that your services were rendered in a situation of medical distress. Good Samaritan laws protect health care providers from legal action in these types of EMERGENCY cases.
Statute of limitations – Prove the plaintiff waited too long to bring the medical malpractice claim. Every state has a statute of limitations on how long plaintiffs have to file such a claim. Your lawyer will know what the law is in your state.
There is a lot to know about medical malpractice to present an effective defense. Your actions in your practice and the date that you are accused of malpractice, can make a big difference. Contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to discuss the next steps you should take.