After experiencing symptoms of a medical problem, you often trust doctors and nurses to inform your decisions regarding your health and treatment. Medical care providers are expected to provide a responsible diagnosis and effective treatment for your injuries. Unfortunately, not every provider will offer the high-quality care and treatment you both need and deserve. In fact, every year, medical malpractice settlements result in more than $3 billion in payouts to injured victims.
If you suffer medical malpractice while being treated by a medical professional, you may have the right to file a claim by speaking with a medical malpractice lawyer today.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider, including doctors and hospital employees, causes injury to a patient. Medical malpractice typically occurs due to negligence on the part of the provider, rather than a deliberate intention to cause harm. However, medical malpractice can lead to substantial pain and suffering for patients impacted by a healthcare provider’s poor decisions.
To define a patient injury as medical malpractice, the healthcare provider’s behavior must:
Medical malpractice may occur in a variety of circumstances. Anytime a provider’s negligence causes injury to a patient, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. A few circumstances that commonly lead to medical malpractice claims include:
Patients often seek a medical evaluation after they begin experiencing symptoms of a medical issue. Your doctor must then use your description of symptoms to inform his or her diagnose your illness or injury. Typically, doctors are qualified to diagnose routine illnesses or injuries by observing a patient’s symptoms. When patients present more complex or serious symptoms, diagnostic testing and further observation may be required to accurately diagnose the condition.
Even with diagnostic testing and observation, doctors sometimes fail to properly diagnose a patient’s condition. At times, doctors fail to diagnose a condition, despite symptoms that clearly point to a specific illness or injury. If another doctor with similar training and experience would have properly diagnosed the condition, an injured patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. If a doctor’s failure to provide an accurate diagnosis causes complications or a worsening of symptoms, the patient may be entitled to compensation.
Similar to the failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor looks at the symptoms you display, then assigns an inaccurate diagnosis. If another doctor would have reasonably diagnosed your actual condition, or ordered additional testing, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
Misdiagnosis creates two key problems for the victim. First and foremost, the initial condition often continues to go untreated as a result of the inaccurate diagnosis. In some cases, victims may ignore worsening symptoms, assuming they simply represent the progression of the condition described by the doctor. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis can sometimes cause extreme health complications.
Second, the victim of malpractice may receive treatment for an illness or injury he does not have. Often, the medications or procedures required to treat the diagnosed illness have side effects, which cause unnecessary pain and suffering. In addition, the prescribed procedures and treatment may have significant costs for which the patient is responsible for paying.
During the birthing process, both the mother and baby experience a high degree of vulnerability. A birth injury occurs when either the mother or baby suffers a significant injury during birth, including:
Birth injuries may occur due to a variety of reasons. Some birth injuries are unavoidable despite the highest level of care. Other birth injuries, however, may occur due to:
medical malpractice errors may occur in a variety of circumstances. Surgical errors may include:
Doctors and care providers must provide a high standard of care when treating patients. In addition, they must use quality medical products to ensure that the products themselves do not pose a danger to their patients. Companies that produce and distribute medical products are similarly under a duty to provide quality products. Producers must ensure that medical equipment is sterile and will function properly.
Medical product liability claims may involve:
Medications provide valuable support to many patients, alleviating symptoms and helping them manage many medical conditions. Unfortunately, medication errors can pose significant challenges for patients. Medications often display unfavorable side effects, which can cause a range of problems for the patient to whom they are prescribed. Common medication errors include:
Many medical procedures involve known risks. For example, any procedure that requires the use of general anesthesia poses an increased risk of complications. Some medications and treatments come with known dangers and potential complications.
As a patient, you have the right to make an informed decision about your care. To make an informed decision, you must be aware of all the potential risks associated with the suggested treatment plans. A doctor may fail to adequately inform a patient of the risks. If you would have avoided a specific treatment, had you known the risks, and you suffer injury from that treatment, the doctor may be liable for malpractice.
A doctor does not have to list every possible, minuscule risk or potential side effect to a patient before a procedure. Patients must do their own research, including the potential side effects of new medications or possible medication interactions. However, if the procedure or medication represents a significant risk or has substantial side effects, the doctor must inform you of those risks ahead of time.
Patients have the right to decide which treatment plan they will undergo. For example, you have the right to decide whether you want to submit to surgery or to a specific treatment protocol for a given illness. You also have the right to determine when medication side effects cause more serious side effects than the illness they treat. It is up to the patient whether they want to continue the suggested treatment plan. Your doctor must accept your decisions regarding your treatment, even if the doctor does not agree with your decision.
If you cannot consent to treatment, your doctor must exercise his or her best judgment based on the information available. For example, if a doctor discovers a previously unknown problem during surgery, he may decide to treat the issue to avoid future surgical intervention.
The doctor may consult your loved ones or may independently make a decision based on your current treatment. A doctor can also exercise his best judgment in providing care in an emergency without a patient’s consent. However, when a doctor chooses to perform a procedure that you could not consent to, the doctor may be liable for malpractice.
If you suffered injuries due to the negligence of a medical care provider, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to learn more about your legal right to financial compensation.
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