What do you do if you have suffered an injury or when you’re feeling unwell? You go to the emergency room or seek medical assistance from a professional. No matter the severity of the injury or illness, there is no denying you trust that the medical provider or doctor will do what is best for you and will care for you properly. However, unfortunately, this is not always the case.
As much as you would like to think this couldn’t happen to you, there are times when unfortunate incidents like a case of medical negligence occur. And, sadly, these are completely out of your control. It is the responsibility of the person in charge, whether a surgeon, medical provider, nurse, or other medical staff involved, to commit to taking care of you properly.
Indeed, some mistakes can happen without bad intentions being the cause. However, if a doctor or physician feels overwhelmed by a situation, they should send the patient to another professional rather than risking an unfortunate incident.
The fact is that, in the U.S., there are as many as 19,000 medical malpractice cases reported each year, according to The Medical Malpractice Center. This is a highly alarming number. So, if you have been subject to medical negligence, it is of the utmost importance to know what you need to do.
The following article presents six things to know if you find yourself in such a situation:
1. Medical negligence definition
It is of the utmost importance to know what medical negligence is and when a situation qualifies as one. A claim for medical negligence occurs when a patient is subject to acts of negligence from a medical professional.
In this case, experts from Medical Negligence Law state that “the patient is eligible for compensation that covers the damages due to lack of competent care from any type of healthcare worker and when the treatment provided is below the standards of competence and skills expected”.
This means the compensation will cover any health damages, both physical and psychological, as well as expenses involved due to further medical treatments. Not to mention, the patient might have to suffer the loss of earnings and various other costs, such as travel and care.
2. Examples of medical negligence
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you might be eligible to claim medical negligence compensation, it is crucial to know some of the cases of negligence. This can help you to know if your situation applies and whether something similar has happened to you. Therefore, the following are some of the most occurring examples:
- Failing to diagnose correctly and giving the wrong course of treatment;
- Surgical mistakes that worsen the health condition;
- Long-term negligent treatment;
- Negligent and incorrect medical advice
- Wrongfully admitted anesthesia without taking into consideration the patient’s medical history;
- Incorrect diagnosis followed by prescription and medication errors.
These situations stated above are the ones that occur most often. There might be more specific cases of medical negligence, such as being offered a wrong cosmetic treatment, which causes other health issues. But, as long as they fall under medical care that is below the standard of required skills from a healthcare provider, chances are you are eligible for compensation.
3. There is a time limit for claims
When it comes to compensation claims, it is vital to know that there is a required time limit you have to file for the claim, including medical negligence. This limit is generally three years from the moment the patient becomes aware of the issue, and consequences can be seen. More often than not, this is also when the medical negligence situation took place.
However, there might be an exception if the health consequences of a particular medical negligence situation weren’t visible when that negligence occurred. In this case, the time limit of three years begins the moment you first notice them. Other exceptions are if the patient lacks mental capacity or is under 18, in which case a guardian or parent can make a claim on their behalf.
4. Gathering evidence is mandatory
Medical negligence can be time-consuming and stressful. It is understandable, given that you have suffered physical or psychological damages due to the irresponsible care provided by a healthcare professional.
In order for the compensation claim to be successful, it is mandatory to gather sufficient evidence to support your case. Otherwise, it is seen as hearsay, which is frustrating knowing that you are eligible for medical negligence compensation.
The type of physical evidence needed includes any vital detail related to your case, from medical records, advice, diagnoses, and treatment given by the medical provider to any other correspondence that might have occurred between you and the hospital and medical staff. These pieces of evidence together can strengthen your case.
5. Hire a specialized lawyer
In the event of medical negligence happening to you, it is highly recommended you hire a specialized lawyer. This highly skilled professional with a vast knowledge of legal information related to medical and clinical negligence is necessary.
Not only will a lawyer be able to facilitate the entire process and be committed to it, but they can also offer peace of mind when you have already been under emotional and physical distress. What’s more, lawyers specialized in medical negligence cases can help the patient gather all the needed evidence, such as records and helpful correspondence, as well as medical witnesses.
6. The duration of the claim varies
It is crucial to know that medical negligence claims can be a lengthy process. In some cases, they can take around twelve to eighteen months, which is a fortunate situation. But given that these medical negligence cases are quite complex, they can extend over the course of three years or even longer.
This is all depending on the severity of the injury caused and how severe the consequences of medical negligence are. The aspect that can influence the claim’s duration is the strength of your compensation claim and how much evidence you manage to gather. For this reason, it is crucial you have a professional lawyer by your side.