Medical professionals like doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners are some of the hardest working people in America, a fact that has become all the more clear during the pandemic. The vast majority of the time, you can trust that your healthcare provider is doing their best for your benefit. However, there may be a time when, through negligence or personal error, a medical professional winds up causing great harm instead.
In that unfortunate instance, if you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice, you should always consult medical malpractice attorneys, such as the professionals at Warren Allen, for help. In this blog post, we’ll look at how a veteran medical malpractice attorney can help you in your time of need.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice refers to harm done by a medical practitioner, such as a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or healthcare institution as a whole, to a patient under their care. Colloquially, it may be used to refer to any medical treatment or interaction perceived as substandard. However, from a legal standpoint, medical malpractice must meet several criteria to suffice:
1. There Must Be an Extant Doctor-Patient Relationship
To put it plainly, a medical malpractice suit can only be brought against a doctor or medical professional who had direct involvement in treating the patient in question. For instance, if a doctor published a paper suggesting a new treatment for an illness and following that treatment caused injury or death, that doctor cannot be hit with a malpractice suit. The doctor who used that new treatment on the patient could potentially be vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits, however, but there are other constraints on this.
2. The Medical Provider Must Have Acted in Negligence
One of the most critical facets in any medical malpractice suit is this: the doctor or other healthcare professional must have acted in a negligent manner. It’s not enough that the victim of the possible malpractice be unhappy with the care they received. Their medical malpractice attorneys must be able to demonstrate that this was truly a case of negligence.
In our hypothetical case earlier, the doctor who treated the patient with this new treatment might be able to successfully argue that they thought they were using the most advanced, cutting-edge treatment possible and that they had clearly notified the patient or their family that this was experimental. This would be a strong argument to fend off a medical malpractice suit.
Context is also critical here. For example, if a neurologist was on board an airplane and called upon to help care for a person suffering a heart attack with only basic medical supplies, it would be difficult to sue them for malpractice given the context, their lack of resources, and their lack of specific training. They could well argue that they did the best they could in the circumstances.
3. The Negligent Behavior Caused Specific Injury
There are two parts to this third and final criterion: first, that this negligence directly caused a specific injury, and second, there were specific damages incurred by the victim as a result of this injury.
For the first part, it can be understood as this: if the doctor was in fact negligent, did this negligence cause the harm in question?
In other words, if a doctor was giving an eye exam, and perhaps was doing so sufficiently poorly so as to be considered negligent, and then their patient suffered a fatal heart attack, is there actually a link between the two events? If the eye doctor’s negligence led to blindness, on the other hand, that would be a prime candidate for a medical malpractice suit.
The second part is equally key: did this injury cause damage to the victim in a real, tangible way? If you believe that your doctor erred and prescribed you the wrong medication, but you were not harmed by taking the medication, then you would not likely have a successful malpractice suit.
Some of the most common types of damages listed in a lawsuit for medical malpractice are:
- Physical pain and emotional distress
- Loss of wages due to lack of work
- Extra expenses due to further medical treatment to correct the potential malpractice
If your incident involves all three of these medical malpractice elements, then you could stand a good chance at prevailing in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What Services Do Medical Malpractice Attorneys Offer?
If you think you or a loved one potentially has a viable medical malpractice suit based on the above criteria, then you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney. An experienced malpractice lawyer can help you through the following services:
- Assessing your case. Especially in the emotionally charged period following a medical mishap, it may be difficult to maintain an unbiased mentality as you try to work out whether you have a viable, valid malpractice suit to bring forward. A medical malpractice attorney can give an experienced, unbiased assessment of your situation and whether you will be likely to prevail.
- Helping you understand all your legal rights. It’s unlikely for any one individual to understand all the labyrinthine facets of federal, state, and local law, especially one who isn’t an experienced attorney. If your rights have been violated in any way, the attorney can let you know just what the injury was and what your recompense might be.
- Handling necessary paperwork and red tape. Filing a lawsuit in any situation can be daunting, especially if you’re dealing with pain from medical malpractice or are caring for someone who now needs it. The medical malpractice attorney can take care of all the filing for you, taking this off your plate.
- Arguing cases as needed. Most lawsuits are resolved out of court in settlements, but should your lawsuit need to be argued before a judge, you will be glad you have an experienced medical malpractice attorney representing you.
To help your medical malpractice attorney help you, it’s often a good idea to get a medical assessment by another doctor (i.e., not the one you might possibly sue) to have a professional evaluation of your condition and the harm that has been done. However, if you aren’t sure where to start, you can always contact your malpractice lawyer for a consultation.