What is medical negligence? Medical negligence or medical malpractice refers to the liability of doctors, medical practitioners and other medical treatment providers when they cause cause harm to patients by providing services in a negligent manner. Medical negligence usually happens when a health provider deviates from the “standard of care” or the recognized healthcare standards.
Medical malpractice has been one of society’s most controversial issues since the 1970s. Since then, a lot of people and institutions in the medical field have been filed with malpractice suits, leading to legal reforms. Medical malpractice has also become an essential part of the Tort Law. In common law jurisdictions, a Tort refers to a civil wrong that causes a person to suffer harm, injury or loss. The person affected is known as a plaintiff, and the person responsible for inflicting harm to the plaintiff is known as the defendant or tortfeasor.
How to Determine Negligence in Healthcare
A medical negligence claim can exist if a medical provider or practitioner causes any harm or injury to a patient. However, experiencing a bad outcome after a treatment is not always a valid proof of medical malpractice. On several occasions, medical treatment providers inform their patients that they have received negligent health care service from their previous health care provider.
It is also important to note that a quick, honest “apology” from the healthcare provider in question has the potential to prevent any settlement or future claim, without the need for litigation. Oftentimes, insurance companies make sure to settle the case directly with the plaintiff as much as possible. If done before the full extent of the person’s injuries are known, it can prevent the person from hiring a lawyer, which can shift the outcome of the case to the plaintiff’s advantage since the settlement value of the claim can increase through the help of their representation.
Another thing to note is that prosecution of medical malpractice cases can be extremely expensive and the chance of success is slim. The process can also be stressful and time-consuming. It is estimated that roughly 200,000 patients in the United States are killed by medical errors each year. It is also estimated that around 15 percent of personal injury lawsuits filed each year involve claims for medical malpractice, and around 80 percent of the lawsuits filed are considered failures with no monetary compensation whatsoever to the patients or survivors.
Shifts in Handling Medical Malpractice Cases
Through the years, numerous proponents of Tort reform argue that there are too many cases of medical malpractice filed each year. The reality is that the number of medical malpractice claims is declining. As a result, many states changed the way they handle such cases by imposing limits on monetary awards in medical malpractice claims. The award limits have a huge impact on patients who went through devastating and life-threatening injuries. Patients who are denied from their claims will then have no choice but to rely on health insurance and other public healthcare programs – leaving the cost of medical malpractice claims to the public instead of being carried by the responsible healthcare practitioner.
Things to Do
One of the first steps you need to do in case of a medical malpractice is to get in touch with a reputable malpractice attorney. The attorney will need to conduct a thorough review of the cases to determine the rate of success in the event a case needs to be filed. The attorney will need to secure all pertinent medical records and interview the patient. The patient’s friends and family members can also be interviewed to strengthen the case.
Generally, a lawsuit must be filed within a certain amount of time. It is also called statute of limitations. As soon as the deadline for filing the lawsuit runs out, the legal claim will no longer be considered valid in the eyes of the law. It is vital to note that statutes of limitations vary from state to state. Therefore, it is recommended to ask professional advice from a licensed attorney in the state where the alleged medical practice happened.
How to Prevent Medical Malpractice from Happening to You
What is medical negligence prevention? There are different ways for you to prevent medical malpractice from happening to you and one of these steps is to be proactive about medical care. Patients need to do their part in the treatment process by doing some research beforehand in order to better understand their condition. Proper documentation of symptoms is also advised.
There is also no reason for a patient to be intimidated by the medical system. As a patient, you have the full rights to speak up and advocate for your own well-being. You can ask your doctor or healthcare provider in cases that you sense that there is something wrong with the way they carry out their treatment. Although it is important to always listen to your doctor’s advice, you also need to check your own body and use your common sense.