Bad things happen, especially when it comes to health. Despite receiving the best medical treatment and care possible, not every outcome is positive. However, if you or a loved one experiences injury or unnecessary pain or suffering because of a mistake or carelessness on the part of a practitioner or institution, you may have a legal medical malpractice case. Understanding medical malpractice, and what you should do if you are a victim, is important if you hope to receive compensation for the harm done.
Step 1: Understanding medical malpractice
It’s important to know what constitutes medical malpractice. A bad outcome does not necessarily indicate malpractice. Some instances are obvious; for example:
- a surgeon operates on the wrong part of the body or performs a procedure on the wrong patient
- a practitioner prescribes or provides the wrong medication or an incorrect dosage
- a provider does not properly review a patient’s medical history and provides improper treatment
However, other medical malpractice cases are not quite as clear. Because of this, and because these cases are complex and difficult to prove, if you think you or someone you love is a victim of medical malpractice, you should seek advice from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
4 additional steps to take
Not all lawyers have expertise in medical malpractice, so be sure to consult with one who does. Here are four additional steps to take that may bolster your case:
- Create a timeline. Note dates and times of all appointments, tests and treatments from all providers, as well as what you were told at each. Include all materials the provider or staff provided, such as brochures and written instructions or notes.
- Request certified copies of all your medical records. Medical records are confidential; however, every patient has a right to copies of their own records. Don’t divulge why you are requesting your records; you can say they are for insurance purposes.
- If you are able, see another qualified provider for a second opinion. Do not tell that provider you suspect you are considering a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- If possible, and if it doesn’t further jeopardize your care, stop receiving treatment from the practitioner you suspect may be guilty of malpractice.
What you shouldn’t do
In addition to the steps you should take, there are a few you should not. Don’t:
- confront the practitioner or anyone at the institution or practice unless you have first talked with an attorney
- sign anything that waives your rights
- admit to any responsibility
- discuss your case with anyone outside your attorney and immediate family
If you think you may be a victim of medical malpractice, don’t wait. You must file a claim within a certain time for the court to even consider your case. Give us a call. We have experience with major medical malpractice matters and can help you determine if you have a case, and how best to proceed.