Posted in: Jun 28,2023|
People usually have more questions than anything after experiencing a medical error or negligence. While their misfortune may seem entirely the fault of the medical professionals or healthcare facility, how do they know if it constitutes malpractice? What are their options for recourse? Before seeking the advice of an attorney, you may want answers to these questions to ask in a medical malpractice case.
What is medical malpractice?
First, it’s essential to understand that medical malpractice does not only apply to doctors. It occurs when any healthcare professional or organization, such as a hospital, breaches their duty of care to a patient, resulting in harm, injury, or death. In cases of medical malpractice, the healthcare provider or facility fails to adhere to the accepted medical standard of care, causing harm to the patient.
What four things must be proven in a medical malpractice case?
The most common question during a medical malpractice lawyer consultation is, “Do I have a case?” An attorney will review the following issues with you to help determine whether you have a valid claim.
Duty – The most basic question you’ll need to answer when filing a medical malpractice claim is: was there a doctor-patient relationship? This relationship establishes a healthcare professional’s duty to you as the patient. Again, the doctor-patient relationship is not exclusive to physicians and may exist between a patient and any other medical personnel or facility responsible for some aspect of the patient’s care.
Breach – Did the healthcare professional breach their duty of care by deviating from the accepted standard of care? In medical malpractice cases, this question is more complicated. The standard of care refers to the level of care and skill that a reasonably competent healthcare professional with similar training and experience would provide in similar circumstances. To prove a violation of this standard, you may require the testimony of expert witnesses.
Causation – Did the doctor’s actions directly cause injury or illness? The breach of the standard of care directly caused or substantially contributed to the patient’s injuries or harm. It must be demonstrated that the harm suffered would not have occurred without the healthcare provider’s negligence.
Damages – Did you or your loved one suffer physical, emotional, or financial harm as a result of the healthcare provider’s negligence? Medical mistakes do not always result in damages, so this is an important factor. If the provider’s negligence did not cause you or your loved one physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, loss of income, disability, or other measurable losses, you may not have a case.
Is it malpractice if a doctor makes a mistake?
As previously noted, not every medical mistake results in damages to a patient. Even if the mistake does cause harm, it is not always considered medical malpractice. Sometimes, doctors and medical professionals do everything correctly, and patients still suffer adverse outcomes. The determination of medical malpractice will rest on whether your doctor adhered to the standard of care for their profession. An attorney can work with licensed physicians and medical experts to make this determination.
What are examples of medical negligence?
It may help you to identify examples of medical negligence if you think you have been the victim of malpractice. Examples of medical negligence can include:
- Diagnostic Errors – Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose
- Emergency Room Negligence – Failing to order appropriate and necessary tests, misreading test results, and failure to treat as needed
- Surgical Errors – Surgical procedures on the wrong-site or wrong-side, wrong procedures, anesthesia mistakes, and dosing errors resulting in traumatic injuries
- Medication Errors – Overdose, underdose, failure to ask about allergies. This can include other contraindications and prescribing the wrong drug.
- Treatment Errors – Improper treatment, delayed treatment, and errors during treatment
How long does a medical malpractice lawsuit typically take?
The duration of a medical malpractice lawsuit can vary significantly depending on factors such as the complexity of the case, the jurisdiction, and whether a settlement is reached or the case goes to trial. It can take several months to several years to reach a resolution.
Is it too late to file a malpractice case?
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years from the date of injury. However, it is in your best interest to act as quickly as possible to build the best possible case.
What can I expect in terms of compensation if my medical malpractice claim is successful?
If your medical malpractice claim is successful, you may be entitled to various types of compensation, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, disability or disfigurement, and other related damages. The amount of compensation awarded depends on the specific circumstances of your case.
Questions about your lawyer’s experience and qualifications
If you think you have a medical malpractice case, ask your potential attorney about their experience with cases like yours. These questions might include:
- How long have you been practicing medical malpractice law?
- Have you handled cases similar to mine before?
- What is your success rate in handling medical malpractice cases?
- Are you a member of any professional legal organizations or associations related to medical malpractice?
When you think you may have a medical malpractice case, it can be a confusing and challenging time. You’re dealing with the consequences of a doctor’s mistake, and the legal process can seem overwhelming. An experienced, compassionate medical negligence lawyer at Montross Miller can answer all your questions and help put your mind at ease. Contact us today for a free consultation.