When you seek medical care of any form, including surgery, prescriptions, diagnosis, or medical advice, you expect competent and skilled care from a licensed medical professional. Not only do you expect competent care, but you also have a right not to be harmed by a negligent and careless medical professional. If you have been harmed by a medical professional who has failed to competently perform their medical duties, medical malpractice has occurred.
If you recently received medical care from a doctor or medical professional and you feel you are now worse off than before, you may be wondering if you have a claim for medical malpractice. Simply being unhappy with the results of your medical treatment or being dissatisfied with your health professional isn’t enough to warrant a medical malpractice claim. In order to bring a successful malpractice claim, a patient has to show that four elements have been satisfied.
Elements of Medical Malpractice
First of all, the patient must show that there was a patient/doctor relationship. You can establish this by showing that you hired a doctor and he agreed to be hired.
Next, you must show that the doctor was negligent. In order to show medical negligence, a patient must show that the level of medical care was below the accepted standard of care. The court will look at what kind of care a patient would receive from an ordinary, prudent health care professional, with the same training and experience, under similar circumstances, in the same community. Then the court will look at the medical professional under scrutiny in the case and ask if their care was similar or equal to that. If their care was not in line with the accepted standard of care, then the doctor is negligent. The question of medical negligence is typically at the heart of any medical malpractice case, and will require expert testimony to be established.
Third, you have to show that it was the doctor’s negligence that caused your injury. If your injury or harm was the result of a pre-existing condition, or the harm was a foreseeable result of the prescribed medical care, then the doctor cannot be liable. You must show that if it were not for the doctor’s negligence, your injuries or harm would not have occurred.
Finally, a patient has to show specific damages. Damages is just a fancy way of saying that you’ve been harmed in some way. If there’s no harm, there’s no medical malpractice. Pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, lost earning potential, and medical bills are just some of the ways a patient can show that they’ve been harmed.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
Some of the more common forms of medical malpractice include a faulty diagnosis, improper medical treatment, or failure to provide informed consent. A faulty diagnosis may include an incorrect diagnosis, a delayed diagnosis, or even a failure to diagnose to a medical condition. Improper medical treatment is the most wide reaching category, and includes, but is not limited to, surgery errors, anesthesia errors, medication errors, and injuries sustained during childbirth or negligent prenatal care. Finally, failure to provide informed consent relates back to whether a patient was adequately informed about the risks, benefits, or alternatives of a medical procedure.
Special Rules for Medical Malpractice
One of the most important factors in any medical malpractice case is timing. Many states limit the amount of time you have to bring a medical malpractice case and the time limit may begin as soon as the injury or harm occurs and not when you first discover the harm.
Additionally, many states now require a patient to first submit their claim to a special medical malpractice claims panel. The panel is comprised of experts who will actually hear testimony and expert opinions, as well as sift through evidence to determine if medical malpractice has occurred.
The compensation you are entitled to if you have been the victim of medical malpractice covers a wide variety of aspects of your life. You may be entitled to compensation based on physical pain and mental anguish. You may be entitled to reimbursement or payment of medical bills as well as money for missed work and future earnings losses. You may also be entitled to compensation based on a loss of enjoyment of life or a reduced quality of life.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The rules and laws governing medical malpractice are broad and complex, with special rules and requirements varying from state to state. Because of the specialized help and expert knowledge required, it is imperative that you have a knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice attorney working on your behalf. In order to pursue and win a malpractice claim, you’ll need extensive documentation, expert testimony, and a clear understanding of the malpractice laws in your state. A medical malpractice lawyer can help you organize and assemble the necessary evidence, procure the necessary witnesses and help you fight for just compensation. Call one of our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys at Ingerman and Horowitz today to discuss your case and pursue necessary legal action. Call us at 1-800-776-4529 to schedule an initial consultation. Your first consultation is both free and confidential and can get you back on the road to recovery and well-being.