When we are sick or injured, we expect expert medical diagnoses, advice and treatments from our practitioners. There is no room for recklessness in the medical field, especially because we put so much credibility in our physicians’ hands that we can suffer serious consequences if they do not treat us with the utmost respect, time and care.
However, statistics show that medical malpractice claims are on the rise, although over half of these claims are voluntarily abandoned by the plaintiff, and a quarter of all claims are actually settled. This is likely because as plaintiffs gather more facts about their cases, they often realize their claim is weaker than they expected.
Before assuming medical malpractice, let’s look at some of the most common types of medical malpractice plaintiffs sue for:
- Incorrect diagnosis
If a more competent and skilled physician could have made a more accurate diagnosis that would have proven more successful than the former diagnosis
- Improper treatment
Again, if a more competent and skilled physician could have prescribed a different medication, or the same medication with different procedures for taking it
- Failure to warn patient of known risks involved
If a patient suffered some sort of harm from a procedure’s risk that was not clearly explained to them by the medical professional responsible
Other claims are out there, but the mentioned three are the most common types of claims pursued for medical malpractice. Potential harm caused by malpractice includes:
- Physical harm
- Emotional harm
- Extra medical bills
Criteria for a Medical Malpractice Claim
It’s important to understand that just because you may have endured pain or discomfort from a medical procedure, you are not automatically a victim of medical malpractice. The act of medical practice means the patient is somehow harmed by a physician (or any medical professional) due to the professional failing to properly perform medical duties. Different states have different requirements set in place for these cases, but the nation has three general fundamental requirements for pursuing a claim:
- An official relationship between the doctor and patient must exist.
This may sound obvious, but claims get blurry when a professional did not see the patient directly, or was outside of the work environment when medical advice was given. Fortunately, if the doctor was seeing the patient for any reason, this relationship is extremely easy to prove.
- The doctor must have been negligent in his or her practice.
Negligence is more difficult to prove than the relationship’s existence. For a doctor to be considered “negligent,” he or she must have unskillfully or recklessly caused you harm that other skilled doctors would not have. Most states require that, as a patient, you provide a medical expert who can explain the standards of treatment which would be considered “reasonably skillful and cautious.”
- If negligence is proven, you must prove this resulted in injury.
Even if a doctor was proven to have acted recklessly in your diagnosis or treatment, you still have to prove that this negligence was the root of your injury. Most would agree this is incredibly difficult to prove for most plaintiffs, since most of them already had an injury or illness that could potentially have affected the accused harm.
If you believe you have a case for medical malpractice, consult with a lawyer right away. This claim typically comes with an expiration date, and after anywhere from six months to two years, courts will not even consider the claim valid anymore. A lawyer can help you gather the facts and win your case much easier.
Lindsay Bradshaw is a content developer for The Kyle Law Firm in New Braunfels, Texas. She knows medical malpractice can be complex, which is why consulting with a lawyer is critical immediately.