As a patient, you have the right to expect your healthcare provider to provide you with the highest standard of care. When this doesn’t happen, and an injury is caused by medical negligence or error, the results can be tragic for you and your family.
If a medical error has harmed you, it’s essential to learn about your rights and have answers to all of your questions about medical malpractice. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from those wronged by medical errors or just plain ignorance.
Medical malpractice is the improper, unskilled, negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist or other health care professional. It is a civil matter, not a criminal one. A medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed against any person who renders services within their scope of practice and fails to meet an acceptable standard of care in their treatment of you or your loved one.
When does medical malpractice happen?
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician, nurse or other medical professional does not provide adequate treatment for a patient. In most cases of medical malpractice, the doctor or nurse failed to follow proper procedures and protocols that could have resulted in better outcomes for the patient.
There are many different types of medical malpractice, including:
- Unnecessary surgery
- Wrongful birth
- Wrongful death – including suicide-related injuries after being discharged from hospital care; wrongful death claims can also arise when there’s been an error during anesthesia (anesthesia misadventures) that caused some harm to the patient; if someone dies due to cancer treatment failure, this would be considered wrongful death as well.
- Wrongful diagnosis – including misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis
- Wrongful treatment
What is informed consent?
Informed consent is the process that must be followed before a patient undergoes any medical treatment. The doctor must explain to the patient all of the risks and benefits of each possible treatment option, as well as any alternative treatments. Only once informed consent has been obtained can doctors perform medical procedures on patients.
Informed consent is important because it ensures that every patient understands what they will be going through, so they can make an informed decision about whether or not they want to undergo the procedure at hand. In addition to informing patients about their options, doctors are also required to answer any questions during this process, so there’s no confusion about what will happen next or how serious it might be—and make sure those questions aren’t ignored!
How do I know if I have a case of medical malpractice?
If a medical error caused your injury or a loved one’s death, then you have grounds for a medical malpractice case. Many types of injuries can be attributed to negligent care, including:
- Internal bleeding
- Misdiagnosis of an illness (which can lead to more serious illnesses)
- Infection from surgery or injections
Of course, not all errors will result in serious harm. But if the doctor failed to inform you about specific risks and benefits associated with their treatment plan, they have also committed negligence. In addition, it may have been possible that other treatments were unavailable but were not appropriately explained or considered by your doctor.
What should I do after a medical error has injured me?
Take these steps immediately:
Seek medical treatment. If your injury was caused by a doctor’s mistake, you should seek medical attention immediately to ensure everything is fine. If not, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible so that the injury doesn’t worsen.
Talk to your doctor about what happened and ask for an explanation from them. You can also talk with other staff members at the practice if necessary—they may have some insight into what went wrong and why it happened in the first place.
Talk with a lawyer about whether or not you have grounds for a malpractice claim against this practise or other parties involved (such as an anesthesia provider). The longer you wait after an accident happens before consulting with a lawyer, the more likely it is that they won’t be able to help you file suit due to statutes of limitations (which vary widely by state).
It’s also important not just what kind of legal action might be viable but also any financial implications arising from said suit.
How can I learn more about my rights and legal options following an injury caused by a medical error?
Consult with other people who have been in similar situations. They might be able to give insight into their own experiences and outline what they would do if their situation were reversed.
Research online, read articles written by lawyers who specialize in medical malpractice cases, or talk to doctors who work in the same field as those involved in your injury case (or others who specialize in similar fields) about whether they believe that negligence was present during treatment at their practice or hospital; this could help determine whether filing suit against them would be worth pursuing legally speaking.
If you have suffered an injury due to medical malpractice, your first step should be to speak with an experienced attorney. We also recommend looking into steps you can take to prevent medical malpractice from happening to you in the future:
- Be informed and proactive whenever possible.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions or speak up if something doesn’t seem right.
- Keep all records pertaining to your diagnosis and treatment.
- Consider whether there may be other avenues of recourse that could help bring justice for what happened.
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