FAQ: When And Why Should You Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?

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Jessica Coates* – Medical malpractice refers to situations where the treatment offered by a medical practitioner is below the standard of medical care required to properly treat a patient. This medical negligence then results in an undue injury, or even death, to the patient. 

Most individuals who are victims of medical malpractice do not realize that the result of their injury or death in the family was caused by easily preventable medical errors.

Medical malpractice can include:

  • Failure to properly diagnose a medical condition;
  • Failure to supply adequate medical treatment;
  • Failure to refer the patient to the proper medical specialist for their condition;
  • Failure to perform surgery with standard care;
  • Failure to provide standard post-operative care.

The pursuit of a medical malpractice claim comes with risks. These types of claims are complex, time-consuming and can be extremely costly. You should never undertake a medical malpractice claim without fully understanding the risks and possible consequences of doing so. 

What is medical malpractice?

All doctors should obtain and practice a level of education and training required to adequately practice in their area of medical specialty. Every doctor has a duty to treat patients in a way that minimizes their potential for further injuries. Under the law, medical malpractice includes the following circumstances:

Medical practitioners need to be able to provide their patients with a level of care standard in their medical profession. Your doctor fails to provide the medically accepted “standard of care” expected of them by their patient. This results in a substandard level of care during treatment. The negligence brought on by your healthcare practitioner might then result in injury, death or other significant damages. For a medical malpractice claim to be validated, there must be causation directly related to your medical practitioner’s actions and the injuries sustained. 

Types of Medical Malpractice

Not Diagnosing a Medical Condition Properly

Not diagnosing a medical condition properly, or delaying diagnosis of a condition, is the top reason for malpractice claims. Undergoing correct diagnosis is a critical part of providing proper care to any patient. A misdiagnosis can also happen when symptoms are not apparent or significant. The logic underlying the harm that is a result is connected to the fact that the patient in question has missed their chance at treatment opportunities which could have prevented injury or mortality. 

Medication Errors

Each year, thousands of patients die as a result of medication errors. These errors are cause for many lawsuits because there are a large variety of mistakes that can be made with prescription medication. Your medical practitioner can make an error with the first prescription, administer drugs improperly, or miss drug interactions. 

Not Performing Surgery with Reasonable Care

When a patient is subjected to surgical errors it can result in further surgeries, infection, internal organ damage, immune failure and even death. Surgical procedures require the utmost attention and skill, and even the smallest mistakes can have colossal effects on the patient.

Anesthesia Errors

While surgical errors are more frequent, mistakes with anesthesia can be even more dangerous. Errors with anesthesia can be made when medical professionals fail to obtain a complete patient history of possible complications, neglect vital signs, use excessive anesthesia or use defective equipment, just to name a few. Even the tiniest miscalculations in anesthesia can result in permanent injury, brain damage or death.

Childbirth

During pregnancy and birth, a child and mother can be injured in various ways due to medical negligence. Some particular injuries are particularly frightening such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders or paralysis. In birth injury claims, OBGYNs and general surgeons are the physicians most commonly used. 

Injuries which are cause for litigation can happen way back into the various stages of pregnancy care. Negligent prenatal care can include failing to diagnose a medical condition in the pregnant mother such as preeclampsia, Rh incompatibility, anemia or hypoglycemia. 

Neglecting Post-Operative Care

Medical negligence can also occur over the course of a long treatment period. Once a course of treatment is created for a patient, it is crucial that the doctor stay on top of it. If your doctor orders a certain treatment, but fails to follow up, this is known as a form of medical negligence.

In a similar manner, a doctor should also become aware of the negative effects, if any, a treatment may be having on a patient. This is done through the monitoring of the patient during recovery, but when the doctor fails to do so properly this can lead to further injury. 

Malpractice Liability Trends in Canada and the United States

According to the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, medical errors account for 28,000 deaths per year in Canada. Medical deaths are also the third leading cause of death in Canada. Medical negligence is becoming a global epidemic. 

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Growth rate, 1971-1989: 6.4%

We can see that the no. of medical malpractice claims filed in Canada and the US kept on increasing.

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But the compensation for the claim wasn’t upto the par.

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Medication error is one of the medical malpractice trends seen worldwide. Medication error reporting globally was worth about 326 million U.S. dollars in 2018, making it the eighth leading cause of death in the US alone. This number is expected to rise to nearly 362 million dollars with an annual growth of 10.9%.

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This data only goes to show that the pursuit of medical malpractice claims is necessary.

What is the goal of a medical malpractice suit?

The main goal of medical malpractice litigation is that it is the only way in our legal system a victim of malpractice can receive compensation for the damages that were inflicted. Filing a malpractice claim is the only influence a patient can have in demanding compensation to cover costs both financially and mentally.

Compensation rewards for the patient are able to cover the significant costs associated with a serious injury that is due to medical negligence. 

A successful medical malpractice case can help to prevent the offending medical professional from future occurrences of malpractice. A medical malpractice lawsuit is not intended to revoke a doctor’s license, but in extreme cases it can be. 

In some cases, medical malpractice and negligence can be caused by the faulty treatment of several members of a hospital administration, and if this is the case the family is able to file a lawsuit against the hospital for damages.

What can make a medical malpractice lawsuit?

A medical malpractice lawsuit depends on the unique legal elements of each case, and must be a result of patient injury or death. A medical malpractice lawyer needs to have access to important associated medical records, witness testimonies and other related evidence of medical negligence. There needs to be a strong correlation between the medical negligence which shows that it has contributed directly to the patient’s sustained injury. 

When it comes to the monetary cost of the medical malpractice case, it will depend on the compensation for all of the financial and non-economic damages. This is decided by an accomplished medical malpractice lawyer who can determine how much to demand depending on the damage. The type of damage a patient undergoes varies greatly, and can include many different variables. Again, medical malpractice lawsuits can be quite complex to those who do not have a legal background. This is why it is crucial for you to hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to assist you with your claim. 

How to Start a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

The first step you should take to starting a medical malpractice lawsuit is to find and hire an accredited lawyer. You should be choosing a lawyer who has expertise in medical malpractice law in the geographic location the medical malpractice occurred. Before you make your choice, you should interview at least two to three medical malpractice attorneys. You can ask them about their experience handling medical malpractice cases, how many successful cases they have, if they are in contact with medical experts and trials they have attended in any medical malpractice lawsuit. 

You can get professional legal advice and guidance about your situation, and learn more about the different options for receiving financial compensation. Once you have hired an attorney, it is recommended that you pay the fee agreement early on. Then your lawyer will launch the process of investigating the details of your case. They will then review your medical records with a medical expert who will act as a witness in court. Once all of the records are considered and a suitable level of evidence is gathered in your favor, your lawyer will then file the lawsuit. 

Outcomes of Medical Malpractice Cases from 2013-2017

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This chart shows an analysis of the past 40 years and it shows that in Canada the rate of patients suing for medical malpractice has decreased. This has resulted in the number of successful cases to go down. 

Number of Medical Malpractice Payments

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These statistics show the number of medical malpractice payments made by injury type from 2010 to 2013 in the US.

How can a medical malpractice lawyer help you?

Many types of injuries can be involved in a malpractice claim, showing that medical malpractice is a very complex topic. It can be frustrating to deal with endless paperwork on your own, especially without any sort of legal background.

Your malpractice lawyer will be able to handle all of the required documents as well as know the proper way to file your claim. They are able to determine a settlement that perfectly represents your needs and concerns and they are able to maximize your chances of success. They will also be able to professionally negotiate the best settlement possible and have the top resources to back your claim.  

Author

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Jessica Coates is a blogger in Toronto. She graduated with honors from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing. Jessica Coates is a community manager for small businesses across Canada. When not working, she leisurely studies economics, history, law and business solutions.

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