People who have a medical condition visit the hospital to receive treatment, get cured, and get well. However, sometimes they may become victims of preventable medical errors that may worsen their state, or in extreme cases, lead to death. If medical malpractice occurs, the victim may decide to file a malpractice lawsuit to obtain compensation.
“Navigating through the murky waters of medical malpractice claims can be very difficult, and even the most competent medical malpractice attorney may find it quite challenging,” says attorney Arren Waldrep of Price Benowitz Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP. There are a lot of requirements needed to prove your case, and getting a seasoned medical malpractice lawyer is the first step to help get you closer to winning the case.
What is Medical Malpractice
It is essential to understand what constitutes medical malpractice as this would help the victim know if their case qualifies as such. Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider makes a mistake that adversely impacts the patient. The rule is that the error must have caused harm to the victim. Where the victim did not suffer any injury due to the error, there is no malpractice claim.
The healthcare provider can be found guilty of medical malpractice if they fail to meet the demands of the medical standards of care. The medical standard of care is typically defined as the level and type of care that a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional, with a similar background and in the same medical community, would have provided to the victim under the circumstances that led to the alleged malpractice. The victim will have to prove that their treatment was below the medical standard of care to be awarded a malpractice claim.
Steps to Building a Medical Malpractice Claim
To experience success in your medical malpractice claim, it is crucial to establish that there was negligence at some point, and certain steps will need to be taken to build a solid lawsuit.
#1. Get Medical Proof
Before hiring a medical malpractice lawyer, you may need to get medical proof to show that there was negligence. You will need to consult with the medical practitioner, who would explain the possible cause of the problem and proffer a solution. Where the medical error is minor, the parties may reach a compromise without filing a lawsuit.
However, if the victim or their loved ones are not satisfied with the outcome of such compromises, they can reach out to the licensing boards. The medical board will act as a mediator and help parties reach an agreement. Where these options are exhausted without obtaining a positive outcome, the victim can then proceed to file a lawsuit.
#2. Get a Medical Assessment
Before filing a medical malpractice claim, many states require the victim to prove that their claim is meritorious. This is typically done by filing a certificate of merit. This certificate of merit is a medical assessment that ascertains that the injury suffered results from negligence from a medical practitioner.
Before the victim can file a certificate of merit, they must consult another physician who will go through their medical records and determine that their primary health care provider did not meet the rule of the medical standard of care and that such deviation led to injuries suffered. Therefore, your medical malpractice attorney files the certificate of merit to show that your case has merit.
#3. Find out the Statute of Limitation
Before deciding to file a malpractice claim, it is vital to know the length of time provided by the state within which you are expected to file a claim. This is what is known as the statute of limitation. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the period specified by the state, you stand the risk of waiving your right to file a claim.
According to section 5-109 of the Maryland Judicial Proceeding Code, medical malpractice victims are required to file a claim within 5 years of the date of the occurrence of the injury or 3 years from the time it was first discovered, depending on which one came first. Therefore, ensure that you adhere to the statutes of limitation as provided by the state.
Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim
The victim is required to prove the following in a medical malpractice lawsuit:
● The existence of a doctor-patient relationship: The victim must show that the relationship that existed between them and the medical provider owed a professional duty to the patient.
● The doctor was negligent: Some patients may be unhappy with their treatment. This does not mean that the doctor was negligent. You must therefore prove that the doctor made a mistake either in the diagnosis of your condition or treatment, that breached their professional duty.
● The negligence resulted in injury or harm that damaged the patient: Many medical malpractice cases involve patients who are already sick. Therefore, it is always challenging to prove that the doctor’s negligence resulted in actual harm to the patient. The patient is required to prove this by getting the testimony of another medical expert
Effects of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice can have severe consequences on both the medical practitioner and their patients. The medical practitioner in question can be mandated to pay compensation to the victim and can lose their license in an extreme case.
On the part of the patient, they can suffer irreversible injuries that may leave them impaired for life. In some situations, they may not live to tell the stories.
Examples of Medical Malpractice
The following are examples of medical malpractice:
- Incorrect administration of anesthetics
- Misdiagnosis of an illness
- Dropping a patient thereby aggravating injuries
- Failing to change a patient’s position leading to bedsores
- Forgetting an object in a patient’s body during surgery
- Giving the wrong medication or expired drugs to a patient
The malpractice in question can happen in different ways and at different points of administering treatments. In some cases, it can affect the patient and other members of their family. Beyond the compensation for physical injuries suffered, the family can also file for emotional pain and loss of companionship where the death occurred.
Medical malpractice can happen at any time in the cause of treatment and, most times can worsen the patient’s condition. If you have suffered hurt due to the negligence of a medical practitioner, you may be eligible to receive compensation. A medical malpractice attorney will advise on the best way to go about the case.