Sometimes your doctor can be negligent, and their actions (or lack of it) can cause you injuries, pain, or loss.
Medicine is one of the professions where the doctor must perform their duty to the best of their knowledge and abilities. Any mistakes can ruin their patient’s life, causing them injury or suffering.
Medical malpractice laws set the standards that doctors and healthcare providers must adhere to when treating patients.
If a doctor was negligent, you could sue them for medical malpractice. However, you will need to prove their negligence.
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Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical negligence does not become malpractice until you can prove that the doctor’s negligence caused you harm or injury.
If you did not follow the doctor’s instructions, they are not liable for any harm that resulted. But if they wrongly diagnosed you, gave you wrong prescription drugs as a result, or you incurred medical bills for an extended stay in the hospital due to their actions, you might have a malpractice case.
However, before you file the claim, ensure you know what the case entails. Medical malpractice lawsuits are usually expensive. Even if your Chicago medical malpractice lawyer works on a contingency basis, you will still incur costs on expert fees, medical records, etc.
It’s also not the type of case you want to handle on your own. Consider hiring a medical malpractice lawyer.
Proof of Medical Malpractice
For your case to pass as medical malpractice, you must be able to show the following:
1. You Had a Doctor-Patient Relationship
You must show that you hired the doctor, and they agreed to treat you, forming a doctor-patient relationship. If you overheard a doctor advising on the radio, you can’t sue the doctor for any harm caused to you for taking the advice.
You must have evidence that the doctor saw you and treated you.
2. The Doctor Was Negligent
You must prove that the doctor you are suing was negligent. Negligence involves going against the medical standard of care. Usually, you’ll need to involve a medical expert to show the doctor went against the standards.
However, if you did not follow the doctor’s instructions, for instance, you didn’t finish your dose, or you walked around when they had recommended bed rest, that’s not a case of negligence.
Additionally, the doctor may have done everything in their ability and according to medical standards, but the results were not what you expected. Medicine is a very inexact profession and may not always bring the desired results. In such a case, it’s hard to prove negligence.
3. The Negligence Caused Your Injury
You must also prove their negligence caused you the injury. Ask yourself, if it weren’t for negligence, would the injury have happened? If the answer is no, you should prove it.
If, for instance, a patient was suffering from a terminal illness like stage four lung cancer, and they died, it might be hard to prove the doctor’s negligence resulted in wrongful death.
You need testimony from a medical expert or, in case of wrongful death, an autopsy to show negligence caused the injury.
4. The Injury Caused Damages or Loss
Even if you can prove the doctor did not perform as expected professionally, it won’t be malpractice until you show the injuries caused by their negligence resulted in damages or loss.
The damages can be in different forms:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of wages
- Medical bills
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of earning capacity
- Mental anguish and trauma
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
Delayed or Incorrect Diagnosis
If a doctor made the right diagnosis but delayed causing more harm, they are liable for malpractice, also in an incorrect diagnosis.
If a competent doctor would have made a different diagnosis, with a better outcome, then you have a case
If the doctor had made the right diagnosis, but the treatment was inappropriate and resulted in damage, you can sue them for malpractice
For instance, if they prescribed the wrong drugs or a wrong surgery that made you stay longer in the hospital or harmed other organs.
Injuries caused during birth due to negligence are a form of malpractice. Child delivery has many risks, and things could go wrong, but the doctor must take preventative measures
For instance, if the doctor noticed the baby stopped moving during labor and if such a situation calls for an emergency C-section but did not order it and the baby is born with brain damage, they’ll be liable for malpractice.
This involves avoidable errors during surgery, such as operating on the wrong organ or leaving surgical tools, like scalpels or sponges, in the body.
Failure to Disclose Known Risks
Your doctor should disclose any known risks associated with the treatment they offer you. This includes long-term risks, side effects of medications, etc.
The duty of informed consent says that doctors have an obligation to inform their patients of the risks involved in the treatment or procedure.
If they do not disclose and the patient is injured by a procedure they’d have not elected to get through if they had known the risks, the doctor is liable to malpractice.
When to File a Malpractice Claim
If you are a victim of malpractice and believe you have enough proof, you can consider filing a claim. However, it is best to consult a malpractice lawyer before you take any action. The lawyer will assess and see if you have a case.
Additionally, every state has a statute of limitations that dictates the time limits when you can file your claim. In Illinois, a patient has two years from the date of discovery to file a malpractice claim.
You or your attorney are also required to file a certificate of merit within 90 days from when you filed the claim to verify the validity of the claims.