10 Things Victims Should Know About Medical Malpractice
May 10, 2019 08:48 PM EDT
Medical malpractice impacts millions of people across the world every year, yet many of us have little to no understanding of medical malpractice beyond understanding that doctors should work as tirelessly as possible in the pursuit of saving lives. Being ignorant of medical malpractice and how it occurs on a regular basis is a surefire way to end up as the victim of malpractice yourself, and countless patients who have been wronged could have avoided injury by doing their homework.
Here are 10 things you should know about medical malpractice, and what you may want to consider if you've recently suffered at the hands of shoddy medical expertise.
1. Medical errors are a leading cause of death
Some people simply don't understand how serious a problem medical malpractice is in the modern world. The digital age is replete with advanced technology and excellent medical schools, they argue, so how could it be possible that medical malpractice is still running rampant and claiming lives? In reality, however, medical malpractice is still rife in this day and age, and it remains one of the leading causes of death for Americans and other people throughout the world.
A recent Johns Hopkins study claimed that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors, making medical malpractice the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
2. Medical malpractice takes many forms
Those who worry they may be victims of medical malpractice often think that it's a limited area with only a few applications. Only if a surgeon made a crucial mistake while operating on you, for instance, would you be able to make a medical malpractice claim. The truth of the matter is that medical malpractice takes many forms and that doctors and nurses can accidentally harm patients in a myriad of ways that you need to be on the lookout for.
Medical malpractice could occur at diagnosis, for instance, or in the operating room, or even when wheeling you back to your bed on a gurney. Don't make the mistake of thinking that medical malpractice is a narrow thing that seldom occurs - it can and does happen throughout hospitals and at various stages of the healthcare delivery process.
3. Diagnosis is particularly dangerous
While medical malpractice takes many forms, some are more dangerous to your livelihood than others. Diagnostic errors are by far the largest contributor to the amount of medical malpractice claims that occur every year in America, largely because this is an area where overworked, stressed-out medical experts can easily make small mistakes that can result in huge consequences.
One report recently detailed that as many as 33% of all medical malpractice claims could stem from errors made when a doctor was diagnosing a patient.
4. Medical malpractice claims are declining
There's some good news as it pertains to deaths caused by medical errors; medical malpractice claims are declining, with the rate of paid claims drastically diminishing since the late 1990s. Certain medical experts are more likely to face malpractice claims than others, and recent medical advancements and technological development alike have made it easier for some experts to deliver positive patient outcomes without having to worry about a lawsuit arriving on their doorstep. Other professionals aren't so lucky, and still must grapple with the consequences of their errors.
5. Malpractice payouts are getting bigger and bigger
Despite the fact that medical malpractice claims are on the decline, the payouts that winning victims receive from the medical providers in question are actually growing larger and larger thanks to work by lawyers such as Tario & Associates. This is an interesting fact that far too few victims understand - while the overall number of claims being filed is diminishing, the potential payout of a claim is larger than ever before. With the average payment rising, there's a possibility that we could see a slight increase in claims despite medical advancements that make errors less likely.
6. Legal cases can take years
This may serve as an incentive for some to make a medical malpractice claim, but it's also important to understand that a medical malpractice claim can consume a large amount of your time and leave you exhausted after the entire ordeal is wrapped up, even if you're victorious. Legal cases can take months or even years to resolve, especially if the fallout from losing is big and hospitals have a reason to go to the mat and fight your claim until the very end.
7. The statute of limitations may limit your claim
Different states have different statutes of limitations on medical malpractice claims, so you need to understand that citizens in one part of the country may be able to successfully sue over an issue that citizens elsewhere can't grapple with. If you're someone who's been the victim of medical malpractice, take some time to learn about the statute of limitations in your state related to your claim.
8. You don't want to go it alone
Some medical malpractice victims try to handle this entire ordeal themselves, with some even believing they can represent themselves in the courtroom. You don't want to go it alone when it comes to the legal arena, however, so take some time to find a qualified legal expert to help steer you through your malpractice claim. The costs could be too big to handle otherwise, and the legal stress could exacerbate your injury.
9. You'll need an expert witness
Besides a lawyer, you'll also likely need an expert witness who can testify to the nature of your injury and why you should be getting a monetary payout. They will testify that the medical professional in question made a grave error, and their expertise could be the difference between winning and losing.
10. You'll want to document everything
Finally, it's imperative that you document this entire process from start to finish. Medical records, interviews with experts, and photos of your injury and how it impacts you will all be required for a successful medical malpractice claim. With thousands of people being the victim of medical malpractice each year, it only makes sense to file a claim if you've been wronged, yet having the proper documentation is often the deciding factor in whether your claim will be a success or a failure.