Around 41 million surgeries are performed every year in the United States. Unfortunately, around 1 million surgical injuries are also reported each year, making them unlikely but certainly devastating. Even more surprising is the fact that only 85,000 of those injuries make it to court under medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a physician or surgeon is negligent in their care, resulting in major injury or death. If you suspect that you’re a victim of medical malpractice, or about to undergo a surgical procedure, here is what you need to know about medical negligence.
1. The Basics
There are a few things that must happen for a victim to claim medical malpractice. First, the physician must deviate from the standard of care for a particular case. When you enter a hospital, you expect that each doctor is trained the same way with your health in mind. A deviation from that standard occurs when a doctor does something out of the ordinary or negligent when dealing with a patient. For example, if a medical doctor misdiagnoses or administers an incorrect dosage of medicine, you can argue that they deviated from the standard of care.
In addition to the standard of care, an injury must be caused by mistake. If an injury occurs with no negligence, then there is no grounds for medical malpractice. Both the injury and the negligence must be present for a case.
Finally, for a case to be worth pursuing, the medical negligence must have resulted in significant damage. The cost of pursuing a medical malpractice case is high, so before you begin, make sure the reward is worth the risk of costly litigation.
2. Starting a Case
If you believe you have grounds for medical malpractice, you should first contact the medical professional involved with your case. If you had a team of professionals dealing with you as a patient, you should at least reach out to one of them. In most cases, you’ll get a better understanding of the situation, and the doctor may even offer free services to remedy the problem.
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Next, you can contact the licensing board the doctor was certified under. They can occasionally issue warnings to the professional and even advise you further on pursuing a case.
Sometimes you will also require a second opinion on the incident. A certificate of merit is proof that you have contacted another physician, and they have deemed the situation negligent. Most cases are settled out of court, and before finding an attorney, you should follow these steps to avoid extra costs.
3. Finding a Lawyer
A lawyer is necessary if you do decide to pursue a medical malpractice case. This is a lengthy, often confusing legal procedure, so legal advice is a must. In fact, medical malpractice laws aren’t designed to work in your favor, so hiring an expert will be your best bet to get compensation.
First and foremost, you need to find a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases. Generally, most attorneys have a website or a review page, so check how many cases they’ve handled (and won!) before you decide to hire.
In the initial consultation, make sure the attorney seems well versed in the law and invested in your case. Remember, you don’t have to hire a lawyer just because you had a consultation with them. Keep looking until you’ve found the right lawyer for you.
With these tips in mind, you now know the basics of medical malpractice and how a victim should handle negligence. Doctors are here to keep you safe, not cause extra harm by way of negligence. In most cases, you pay them large amounts of money to perform medical procedures, and you deserve compensation for any injury due to medical malpractice.