No one expects poor treatment from a doctor or other medical professional, but it can happen. Substandard medical care can cause severe injuries, illnesses, and health complications that disrupt patients’ lives and livelihoods.
It can be difficult to know if you have a case for medical malpractice. Assessing your rights requires evaluating your health condition and your medical provider’s practices.
The most reliable way to find out if you have a claim is to contact an experienced Tampa medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you suspect that a provider’s mistakes could be to blame for your health problems.
Overview of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or a hospital fails to provide adequate care or administers substandard treatment and causes harm, injury, or death to a patient. The injured patient can typically seek damages from the provider for the harm they suffered when this occurs.
Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers rarely intend to cause harm to patients, but they do make mistakes. Those mistakes can have devastating consequences for patients.
The benchmark for evaluating a suspected case of medical malpractice is the standard of care, which refers to the level and type of care that a reasonably skilled healthcare professional with a similar background in the same medical community would have provided under the circumstances that led to the alleged malpractice.
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to provide the minimum acceptable standard of care when treating a patient and causes harm, making them liable for the patient’s injuries.
The standard of care varies depending on several factors, including the medical expertise the case requires, the geographical location, and the urgency of the situation. The standard of care a big-city cardiologist should provide, for instance, may differ from that of a small-town family doctor. Healthcare protocols may also change depending on geography or the urgency of a patient’s condition.
Emergencies present an example of variations in standards of care. In a high-stress, immediate response scenario, healthcare professionals must make swift decisions using incomplete information about a patient’s condition, causing adjustments to the standard of care.
An emergency medicine doctor performing a lifesaving procedure may not have to follow the same standards as a physician conducting a routine checkup at their office.
Assessing whether you have a medical malpractice case is a highly context-specific exercise. It typically requires evaluating the health condition you sought treatment for, the urgency of your need for treatment, the healthcare setting, and the ordinary medical practices and protocols in that setting for your condition.
Subtle details, such as what you and a medical provider discussed, the tests they ran, or the doctor’s qualifications, could affect the determination of whether malpractice occurred.
Potential Signs of Medical Malpractice
If you suspect that you have been a victim of medical malpractice, it can be helpful to know the signs to look for. The precondition to most medical malpractice claims is that your health has gotten worse or failed to improve after receiving a diagnosis or treatment.
A poor health outcome isn’t the only sign that something went wrong with your care, though. If you spot these signs in addition to your condition worsening or failing to improve after treatment, you might have a case for medical malpractice:
Poor Communication During Medical Consultations or Treatment
Poor or inadequate communication with your healthcare provider is often a red flag. This could manifest as your doctor not taking enough time to clearly explain your diagnosis, treatment plan, or relevant risks. They might ignore your questions or concerns or seem impatiently dismissive.
Poor communication often leads to malpractice cases because it leads to misunderstandings that can affect the accuracy and quality of patient care.
Lack of Informed Consent
A lack of consent or informed consent could also indicate potential medical malpractice. Medical professionals must usually inform patients about proposed medical treatments and obtain their consent before proceeding whenever possible. If you received treatment without a clear understanding of what was happening and why and suffered a poor health outcome as a result, it could be a sign of malpractice.
Unusual or Unexpected Complications
Unusual or unexpected complications after a procedure can also be a sign of possible malpractice. Common complications that constitute potential red flags include intense pain, infection, physical injury, or sudden death.
Some complications are a known risk of treatments, but others can be a result of a provider’s failure to provide a minimum acceptable quality of care. Health problems that arise rapidly and seemingly out of nowhere can be alarm bells that malpractice took place.
Deceptive Practices After Treatment
Missing, incomplete, or altered medical records could be a sign of a cover-up for medical mistakes. If medical providers appear evasive or unwilling to discuss your worsening condition or failure to improve, that too could suggest negligent conduct.
Always expect honesty and transparency from your providers. Getting the runaround from a provider when discussing your condition or providing your records is a sign that something might have gone wrong.
What Can You Do if You Suspect Medical Malpractice?
If you believe that you or a loved one may have been a victim of medical malpractice, it’s crucial to take immediate steps to protect your rights and potentially seek compensation for your injuries or losses. Here are some suggestions.
Address Any Immediate Health Needs
The first order of business is to address your health needs appropriately. This may involve seeking care from a different provider. Talk to a medical malpractice lawyer if you’re unsure about how to handle switching doctors.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Talking to a lawyer as soon as you suspect potential medical malpractice can substantially improve your prospects of recovering compensation. A lawyer can quickly assess your situation and advise you on any immediate steps necessary to protect your rights.
A lawyer can also step in as your representative when dealing with providers who you suspect of medical negligence and their malpractice insurance companies.
Document Your Medical Treatment
Keep a detailed record of all your medical treatments, doctor’s visits, medications, and hospital stays from the start of your care with the medical provider under suspicion up until the present day. This includes doctor names, dates, procedures, and anything unusual you noticed. This information can play a critical role in building a strong malpractice case.
Request Your Medical Records
Your medical records can provide essential evidence in a malpractice case. They contain a detailed history of your medical condition, the treatment you received and by whom, and the results. If a hospital or doctor’s office failed to maintain adequate records or altered them, this could be evidence of wrongdoing.
Do Not Accept Settlements Without Legal Counsel
Medical malpractice insurance companies may try to settle cases against providers quickly and for as little money as possible, even before the injured patient has spoken with a lawyer or begun pursuing a claim. The amount they offer is almost always lower than what you deserve, and if you accept it, you will forfeit your rights to full compensation.
Instead of saying yes, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney immediately and let them handle discussions with a malpractice insurance company on your behalf.
What Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Do for You?
A medical malpractice lawyer is essential to pursuing a claim for damages due to medical negligence. Medical malpractice cases involve complicated legal procedures that make them different from ordinary personal injury matters. You need a lawyer with experience in medical malpractice cases to handle your claim and protect your rights.
The steps a medical malpractice lawyer takes may depend on the circumstances of your health condition and the care you received, but they’ll frequently include the following services:
Detailed Case Evaluation
A medical malpractice lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case. This commonly involves examining your medical records, the details of your treatment, recollections from you and other witnesses, and any relevant legal issues.
State laws often require lawyers to certify that they have reviewed the evidence and have a good faith belief in the merits of their client’s claim. Lawyers may also need to obtain an opinion from a medical expert as a condition of filing a suit.
Investigation and Evidence Gathering
In a medical malpractice case, evidence is crucial to proving that the healthcare provider failed to meet the minimum standard of care. Attorneys for injured patients work diligently to gather all necessary evidence, which could include medical records, eyewitness testimonies, and expert opinions.
Consultation With Medical Experts
One of the critical roles a medical malpractice lawyer plays is to retain and work with medical experts to develop your case. These experts can provide insight into the standard of care that a provider should have given, analyze your medical records, and offer their professional opinion on whether malpractice occurred. State laws sometimes require experts to certify the merits of a malpractice case before a lawyer can file it in court.
Negotiation With Insurance Companies
Medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience in negotiating with malpractice insurance companies. They understand the tactics these companies often use to minimize payouts and can fight to ensure you receive a fair settlement. They can also advise you on whether to accept or reject settlement offers.
Representing You in Court
If your medical malpractice attorney cannot reach a fair settlement through negotiations with malpractice insurance carriers and defense lawyers, they know how to take a case to court and prove it to a judge and jury. This involves crafting a legal strategy, preparing and filing legal documents, representing you during the trial, and advocating passionately on your behalf.
Advocacy and Support
Throughout the process of seeking compensation for medical malpractice, a lawyer can also serve as your advocate, sounding board, and support system. They can inform you regularly about the progress of your case, answer any questions you have, connect you with medical providers, and work diligently to protect your rights.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
It’s not always easy to determine if you’re the victim of medical malpractice, but an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can review your situation and advise you on your rights. Contact one today for a free case consultation.