Medical Malpractice: What To Do, How To Prepare For A Medical Malpractice Case
Medical Malpractice? Here's what you need to know about medical malpractice cases, how it works, and what you need to do if you or a lovedone was hurt by a doctor or hospital.
If you think you have been the victim of medical malpractice, you need to know the basics of hgow these cases work. Your actions and decisions as soon as you suspect something was done which led to the serious injury or death of a loved one are critical.
So learn more about what you need to know, and the steps to take to get answers.
What Is It?
This legal term describes any case in which a healthcare provider causes harm to a patient by deviating from an established standard of care.
Think of it as medical negligence — a situation in which a doctor fails to fulfill their duties to the standards demanded by their profession. Remember, however, just because a given medical procedure did not go according to plan, that does not necessarily constitute medical malpractice.
If a doctor or other healthcare provider does something that falls below the basic and agrees standard of medical care in their treatment of you, and as a result, someone is injured, this is medical malpractice.
What Do I Need To Know About Whether I Have A Case?
There are three parts to cases like this. And, this is basically how medical malpractice lawyers themselves evaluate their client's cases. Thiss is a simplified version, but the though process is the same.
First, what did the doctor or hospital do wrong?
Was it an infection? A mistake during surgery? A delay in dianosing or treating a medical condition? Or was it as simple as performing a medical procedures on the wrong body part or the wrong side of the body?
Some of these situations are simplier than others. And it is often the case that we think that a doctor screwed up because we had a bad outcome from the medical treatment. Especially if we suffer injury, we naturally tend to find who is to blame.
But in medical malpractice cases, we are required to hire and consult with a doctor to reviwew your case. In some cases, we have to review the case with several doctors in different specialties. The doctor must review everything, and give us a report.
Only a doctor is ultimately able to say whether another doctors' treatment met the standard of care or not. If the medeical treratment did not mee the care that a reasonably qualified doctor would have rendered, then it is malpractice.
As you can imagine, it is hard to find a doctor willing to testify, and it is expensive. And medicine is complicated.
So consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer as early as possible (as soon as you suspect that a medical providers did something wrong), is a very, very good idea.
Second, Did You Suffer Damages?
If a surgery or medical treatment results in death or a serious and permanent injury, then the answer is obviously "Yes".
But in cases with smaller injuries, things become complex.
As we discussed in the last section, only a doctor can give us an opinion whether the underlying health condition caused the damages or whether it was medical mistake.
But an additional financial consideration comes into the equation. Since medical malpractice lawyers only get paid if we win, how big are your damages, and are they likely to result in a verdict at trial to offset the tremendous time and money expenses? Remember, we have to pay for medical experts and those reports from doctors. Case costs in malpractice cases can often range from as low as $75,000 all the way to $500,000 or even more.
So for a medical malpractice case to go forward, we must make sure that the damages are big enough.
Third, Did The Medical Errors Cause the Problem?
Lawyers call this aspect "Causation". I means, what, specifically, caused the harm?
In other words, let's say a patient has a heart condition and is having heart surgery. The doctor definitely messes up the surgery. He cuts the wrong part of the heart and does not fix the heart problem.
Later, the patient dies from a heart attack.
Is this due to the surgical mistake or the underlying heart condition? If the answer is the underlying heart condition, then we cannot prove that the surgical mistake caused the heart attack.
Causation in medical mlapractice cases gets VERY complicated, and you should get a free consultation with a lawyer if you suspect medical malpractice.
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How prevalent is medical malpractice?
More common than you may think. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., ranking right behind heart disease and cancer.
What should I do?
If you think you are the victim of medical malpractice, we strongly suggest the following:
- Document everything you can. Because this is a scary and stressful time, you will forget details that may be important. Document dates, times, names of doctors and nurses and dosages, among other things. Be descriptive in your notes and try to document as things are happening, if possible. Even if you are not contemplating a law suit, documenting the details can help you during this stressful time.
- Ask questions. Questioning health-care providers can be intimidating, but this is not a time to be hesitant. Asking question can be pivotal in getting the damages you deserve. Ask how your injuries occurred and how they will be remedied. As a patient, you have a right to know what happened.
- Request your medical records. Under Illinois law, you are entitled to all your medical records. Do not take “no” for an answer!
- Hire an experienced Chicago medical malpractice law firm. Two years is the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Illinois, so do not delay. An attorney can help you get the information the medical professionals may not be giving you. Additionally, your attorney can help you collect crucial evidence and help prove that a clear breach of established standards occurred that resulted in your injuries.
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