According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in the United States — just behind heart disease and cancer. Each year, several billion dollars are spent in medical malpractice payouts.
Obviously, medical malpractice is a significant issue. But what exactly constitutes medical malpractice, and how do you know if you’ve been a victim of it?
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is when a doctor or other professional healthcare provider (such as a nurse or technician) does something or fails to do something that results in an injury or harm to you, the patient. There are two aspects to this – actions that caused harm, or failure to take action which resulted in harm. This failure to act is called medical negligence. Both constitute medical malpractice.
In other words, a medical malpractice case involves a mistake or error on the part of a medical professional that causes harm to the patient.
A medical mistake or omission can occur at any time during a patients medical treatment. Examples of possible medical negligence would be mistakes in diagnosing an illness or failure to provide proper treatment or medication for a disease. Failures on the part of your physician in these manners could violate what is known as the standard of care.
The standard of care is a generally accepted method (or methods) used by other medical professionals in the area to treat patients experiencing similar circumstances to you. Other aspects that can contribute to the accepted standard of care would be gender, age, occupation, and where the patients live (geographically).
If you can prove that your healthcare provider didn’t adhere to this standard of care in regard to your condition, you may have a good medical malpractice case, and you may then file a claim with the help of a medical malpractice attorney.
Injury or Damage
When a physician’s treatments or actions cause you harm, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. For example, the amputation of the wrong limb, leaving medical equipment inside you following a surgical procedure, nerve damage following a procedure, brain damage following an operation or certain treatments, or worsening of a condition with treatment.
How to Determine if You Have Grounds for a Medical Malpractice Claim
There are two factors that must be proved – first, a doctor or medical professional made a mistake in your treatment, and second, you were harmed by that mistake.
Unfortunately, most physicians and medical care facilities have insurance policies that are designed to protect them from malpractice claims. When a medical malpractice claim is filed, then, it is the insurance company and not the provider that opposes your claim and works to disprove both factors.
A medical malpractice case is a long and complicated legal matter, and it should always be faced with the assistance of an experienced attorney. To win the case, you must be able to prove that the damage you’ve sustained is due to negligence. This can be the most difficult part of a medical malpractice case. Generally, you will need to find at least one expert witness (another medical professional) that can affirm the mistake made caused your injury.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
At Russell & Hill, PLLC, our attorneys have years of experience handling medical malpractice claims in both Washington and Oregon. We work on a strict contingency fee basis. This means that we will front most of the case fees and won’t charge any attorney’s fees unless you win the case. Once you’ve won, we will collect the fees and reimbursement for expenses from a percentage of the money gained from the case.
If you have been injured by a mistake by a medical professional, don’t be afraid to take action. With an experienced attorney and a good case, you can receive the compensation you deserve (and need!) for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other damages — all while also helping to make sure that the same mistakes don’t happen to another patient.
Contact one of our offices today to schedule an appointment.