Medical malpractice continues to remain one of the major issue in the U.S. According to reports from the Journal of the American Medical Association, it is “the third leading cause of death in the U.S.,” after heart disease and cancer. It is estimated that medical negligence kills around 200,000 patients each year in the country.
In 2013, medical malpractice payouts increased to 4.7 percent from the year before, marking the first time that there was such a massive increase in the total payouts, since 2003. The payout for 2014 also continued to increase more than 4 percent for the second consecutive year. Over $3.89 billion was spent in the year for medical malpractice payouts.
To avoid becoming a part of these statistics, the best thing you can do is become more and more cautious. One thing you must do is ensure that your physician is taking proper medical documentation as it is the key to providing excellence in medical care.
There is something both doctors and patients need to consider to lessen the risk of encountering medical malpractices. While it is primarily the responsibility of medical practice staff to ensure the patient’s safety is taken care of, the patients too need to be careful and proactive.
Reducing Risks of Medical Malpractice: Communicate Clearly with Your Physician
As mentioned, medical documentation is critical to proper medical care and it can even reduce malpractice risks in various ways. But that requires a great communication between patients and doctors.
There must be a trusting rapport between doctors and patients so that the latter can reveal their relevant medical information without hesitation. This reduces the chances of diagnostic error as well as malpractice risks.
Establishing such relationship is even more important for doctors as fostering a strong relationship with patients reduces the chances of a patient suing you if any issue related to medical malpractice arises.
While the patients are advised not to hide anything no matter how mundane it is from your physician, doctors and medical practice staff need to employ a few key communication strategies when interacting with patients such as listening carefully and providing clear answers so that patients have realistic expectations. Moreover, you must never dismiss the patient’s concerns when you are trying to build a strong relationship.
As a patient you too must understand the value of clear communication with your physician. Discuss your previous medical history, tell them if you are allergic to anything in advance, or if you are taking any other drugs, prescribed or otherwise.
What You Need to Know about Medical Malpractice
A medical malpractice claim exists only if the negligence causes damages or injury to the patient. That said, it is still challenging to prove medical negligence even if you have experienced a bad outcome. In most cases, where medical negligence has been proved the health-care provider would try to put the blame on some previous health-care provider(s). There are 3 things you need to know about medical malpractice.
- Getting an Opinion from a Medical Expert can Help You in the Lawsuit
As mentioned, you need to prove that medical negligence has occurred and caused damages or injuries to file a medical malpractice claim. To do so, the plaintiff or the patient must get a second opinion from medical expert before filing a case of medical malpractice. The medical expert must verify that the defendant has indeed breached the standard of care, which caused the injury or damage to the plaintiff.
You can however file your case even without an expert opinion, although it is usually subject to preserve the statute of limitations. This means, you need to file the lawsuit timely. Generally, you have at least a year’s time to serve the defendant, although the time limitation varies from state to state.
- Finding Medical Experts to Testify a Malpractice Case is a Challenging Task
Medical professionals, just like any other professionals, hardly prefer to judge or criticize actions of other health care providers. It’s more of a professional courtesy, but it actually makes your job of finding an expert to verify the medical negligence a more challenging task.
It becomes even more difficult if the defendant is practicing in a very specialized area as similar practitioners usually know each other.
But the good news is that you don’t need the same medical expert who evaluated your case to testify the same. You can use multiple experts; this means, you need not disclose the identity of the medical expert evaluating your claim to the defendant, which at least gives you a ground to convince a medical practitioner to render opinion about your case.
- Know How “Statute of Limitations” can Affect Your Case
As soon as you suspect that you or a loved one have been subjected to negligent care, the first thing you should do is consult a seasoned medical malpractice attorney for a comprehensive review of your case details, including securing pertinent medical records and other aspects.
Your malpractice attorney will help you understand the statutes of limitation for filing the lawsuit. If you fail to file the lawsuit within the given deadlines of your state, the case will be permanently barred.
As said, the statutes of limitation vary from one state to another so do the procedural requirements. For example, the deadline to file a medical malpractice in Oklahoma is 2 years whereas it is up to 10 years in Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri.
Your attorney is the best person to guide you through the prevailing laws and regulations of the states where the said medical malpractice occurred.
Patients need to be proactive about the medical care they are receiving in order to avoid being a victim of medical malpractices. Do research about your health condition and try to document the symptoms. Ask your physician and health care providers detailed questions about the condition and demand full and complete answers. Most importantly, never be intimidated by the complexities of the medical system.
Instead, speak up for your own well-being, especially if you feel something is not right. Talk to your health care provider to avoid adverse situations; but if they should unfortunately occur, never hesitate to consult your medical malpractice attorney to demand compensation for the damage done.
Author Bio: Rachel Oliver is a thought leader in laws dealing with personal injury and related niches. Updated with the latest happenings in the legal world, she shares her experiences and anecdotes through her write-ups on various websites. Interact with her through her Google+ profile.