Since only major cases of medical negligence grab the headlines, it may be easy for anyone to think that those are the exceptions. Far from it, cases of medical malpractice in America have gone through the roof over the last decade and there is little reason to think that things will get better. To provide some context, a recent study into the extent of the scourge shows that about a quarter of a million Americans die annually from medical errors, effectively making medical errors the third leading cause of death in the country.
In the light of this sobering statistics, anyone can be a victim.
Here are some basic things you need to know about medical malpractice from seasoned medical malpractice attorneys from a top law firm in Washington.
What Amounts to Medical Malpractice
Before we delve into the details, the first thing to grasp is what constitutes medical practice, that is, from a legal point of view.
Legally, every medical professional bears a duty of care to their patient(s). They are, therefore, expected to adhere to a standard of care which is simply what any reasonable medical professional would or would not do under the same circumstance. Medical malpractice or negligence is said to occur when they depart from this recognized standard.
How to Know if You are a Victim of Medical Malpractice
When a negligent act of a health-care provider directly causes injury or any harm (including death), then you have a case of medical malpractice. It is also important to note that not all unfavorable outcomes are necessarily caused by medical negligence. Some may transpire even when medical providers adhered to their standard of care. That is why each case should be analysed on its own merits to ascertain whether medical malpractice occurred.
What to do when you think you have a Case of Medical Malpractice
When you suspect that a case of medical malpractice may have occurred resulting in injury or death and you would like to file a lawsuit, get in contact with an experienced attorney. It may be important to contact an attorney from your state for the reason that different states have different deadlines for filing of medical malpractice lawsuits. A malpractice attorney from your state should be aware of the respective deadline and act accordingly.
The attorney will scrutinize the details of the case and determine which step to take.
Why Claims for many Actionable Medical Malpractice Cases are not pursued
Many victims of medical malpractice do not pursue actionable cases. In fact, medical malpractice cases account for a small percentage of personal-injury-related lawsuits. Why? Here are three reasons:
In some cases, health-care providers admit culpability and try to convince their victims to settle the matter outside the court. Since the court process is seen as long and stressful, many victims are persuaded.
Some victims simply do not like the public attention attracted by such cases which may affect the treatment they are likely to receive in future.
Lastly, litigation is expensive and some victims may not have the means to pursue valid claims.
In closing, medical professionals have a very challenging job that must be appreciated. However, they are still human, and like everyone else should bear responsibility for their mistakes which can sometimes cause grievous harm and death. To patients, do your research about your medical condition and the kind of treatments you are likely to receive. That way, it will be easy to detect a mistake. Secondly, do not be afraid to speak up when you suspect that something has or is about to go wrong.