When it comes to your health and well-being, you have full trust in the medical professionals handling your needs. However, you can’t always expect your prescribed medication to work or your surgical procedure will go smoothly. While practitioners in the medical field swear an oath to safeguard your health from any risk, errors can still happen and it’s important to hold someone accountable for any sudden or future complications.
Medical malpractice often happens when doctors, nurses, hospitals and other healthcare providers fail to follow standard procedures. This failure often leads to injuries or deaths that are otherwise preventable. As a matter of fact, medical malpractice in the United States causes 98,000 deaths annually. Meanwhile, the number of malpractice cases has been on an upswing, with healthcare providers winning most of these.
Being the victim of medical malpractice is an emotionally and physically traumatic experience. If you or a loved one has suffered due to the alleged negligence and recklessness of medical practitioners, it’s best to file a malpractice lawsuit immediately.
Understand what went wrong
Before filing, it’s important to know if you are in the right position to launch a complaint. Not all cases of malpractice are caused by negligence. Patients themselves may contribute to complications and blame doctors and nurses for these. There is a good chance that a complaint may backfire if it isn’t well-grounded. With that being said, it’s important to reach out to the healthcare provider and ask where it went wrong.
Consider yourself lucky if your hospital is willing to pay for the damages and apply corrective solutions. On the off-chance that the institution isn’t willing to settle, you might as well take the matter to court. At any rate, it’s important to talk with the healthcare provider first before proceeding.
2. Check for long-term conditions
In most cases, the effects of malpractice will manifest much later. A faulty surgical procedure or a complication during the birthing process may result in serious physical and mental impairment which could be a financial burden to the patient. Cerebral palsy in children, for instance, is often the result of a negligent medical error. For more about this form of medical malpractice, click here.
At any rate, it’s important to be very aware of what you are feeling after every procedure or dosage of prescribed medication. Feeling any discomfort or other side effects? Documenting your condition every day helps in determining whether a healthcare provider had exposed you to risks or caused impairments. The slightest complications may just be a cause for alarm, but you won’t know until the complications start to manifest.
3. Review the Statute of Limitations
Before proceeding with a malpractice lawsuit, make sure to review your state’s Statute of Limitations. In simpler terms, a Statute of Limitations is the period within which you are allowed to launch a lawsuit. If you fail to meet this deadline, you basically lose the opportunity to have your complaint heard in court.
Every state has its Statute of Limitations covering medical malpractice. It could range from two to four years from the time when the error occurred. Understanding this basic rule helps you prepare if ever you decide to push through. It can get tricky since you, as the patient, will need to prove that malpractice had indeed occurred. Moreover, the Statute will not take into effect until the first signs of impairment are observed. In other words, you will have to wait a long time before filing. At any rate, you might want to consult a lawyer who can help you structure the facts of your case and launch legal action before the Statute expires.
4. Get help from an attorney
If it is unlikely for the other party to work closely in correcting a preventable error, there is no other option but to sue the individual or institution responsible. For this, it’s best to work with a lawyer that has handled malpractice cases of a specific nature.
The best outcomes are guaranteed so long as you have a lawyer who has won similar cases against erring medical practitioners before. While spending thousands of dollars on a malpractice attorney might seem like overkill, it pays off if it means increasing your chances of taking home a larger settlement.
5. Opt for a settlement
Not all legal battles end up in court, and not all court battles involving healthcare practitioners will end well for you. If you expect your case to enter into the trial, you may have to exhaust a lot of time, effort, and resources to fight for justice. However, going down this route puts you in a difficult situation, especially if the other party has the infrastructure to build a strong legal defense.
Although court battles may lead to a larger compensation, you may have better luck settling your case out of court. In fact, your attorney may suggest for you to settle instead of going all in. You only need to come up with an amount the other party will have to agree on. Make sure to include hospital expenses, future expenses, and future income losses if you were rendered disabled as a result of malpractice. You may not get the best possible deal out of a settlement, but it helps you avoid the worst possible scenario.
6. Work with regulators
If the hospital or doctor handling you has had previous malpractice complaints, you may need to check with the local licensing board and other government agencies that are overseeing healthcare practitioners and institutions. Government regulators can also support your malpractice case and implement sanctions on erring practitioners. That way, they can no longer harm future patients and increase the quality of healthcare in your area.
Medical practitioners are trained to handle illnesses and conditions as best they can. After all, the Hippocratic Oath was not conceived for nothing, and you will need to do your part as a private citizen to help maintain the integrity of the medical field. It starts by taking action against the wrong practices.