Warning Signs of Medical Malpractice
You’ve been treated by a doctor for a medical condition or undergone surgery, but instead of being on the road to recovery, you are feeling even worse than before. You bring up your concerns with your physician or surgeon, but instead of getting the answers you need, the doctor is evasive, or even dismissive. You decide to get a second opinion, which your doctor does not encourage; and when you do, you discover that your illness or condition was worsened by your first doctor’s actions. Do you have a medical malpractice case? Based on these common warning signs of medical malpractice, you just might.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon for people to suffer injuries or worsening conditions at the hands of physicians or other healthcare providers. While we are encouraged to trust doctors with our very lives, in our present stressful healthcare environment, these medical professionals are often expected to do a lot more with less, which can lead to fatigue, distraction, and possibly mistake-causing injuries and even death. A 2016 study by Johns Hopkins Medicine concluded that medical errors should be ranked as the third-leading cause of death in the United States. The study estimated that more than 250,000 people die each year in this country from medical mistakes. Many more than that are injured.
With those statistics about injuries and death in mind, what actually legally constitutes medical malpractice? According to the National Institutes of Health, the “four d’s” constituting medical malpractice are duty, dereliction, damages and direct cause; and all four of these things must be present to prove malpractice. In layman’s terms, malpractice might be described as a doctor’s failure to act with reasonable care under the circumstances. The burden is on the injured party to prove that a doctor-patient relationship existed and that his or her injury was caused by the doctor’s negligent actions or inactions.
Common types of medical malpractice include anesthesia errors, mistakes during surgery, misdiagnoses, improper testing, and medication errors, including prescribing the wrong medications or the wrong dosages.
Does Your Case Show These Warning Signs?
If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim against a doctor or other medical professional, consider these warning signs, some of which were touched upon previously:
- Your illness or condition has not improved after treatment and may even be getting worse.
- Nobody follows up with you with about your lab or test results.
- You’ve received a troubling diagnosis, but you were never offered or given the common test for that illness or condition.
- You feel your doctor isn’t listening seriously to your complaints or even avoids or evades your questions.
- Your doctor discourages you from seeking another opinion.
- Your symptoms are not at all in line with your diagnosis.
- You don’t receive proper follow-up instructions or care for your illness, condition or surgery.
Medical malpractice law is highly complex and varies from state to state. It is a good idea to consult with a qualified attorney in the state in which you live when thinking about bringing a medical malpractice claim. An attorney who understands malpractice laws in your state can advise you about your potential lawsuit’s viability.
To pursue a medical malpractice claim, you will need copies of all of your medical records so you and your attorney can dig deeper into the actions your doctor took or did not take in your case. Medical providers are required by law to provide medical records within a specific time period, which varies by state. If your doctor refuses to provide records or significantly delays in providing them (generally in Illinois records must be provided within 30 days), this may be another clue that medical malpractice has occurred.