Nobody goes to the doctor to get worse, but still, medical malpractice was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2013, behind heart disease and cancer, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Our malpractice lawyers at The Edwards Law Firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma, can help you seek the compensation you deserve after experiencing an incident of medical malpractice, whether it was general negligence from a health care professional or something as large and heavy as a birthing room mistake. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
In this blog, we offer insight into eight common questions about medical malpractice and how malpractice lawyers can help you make the best of an unfortunate and painful situation.
1. What exactly is it?
By definition, medical malpractice is when a patient is harmed by a medical entity or medical professional who failed to perform their medical duties competently. Their negligence often affects the patient in a negative way and includes errors in diagnosis, treatment, aftercare or health management.
Basically, medical malpractice is a legitimate personal injury claim if the doctor at hand did not provide the same adequate care any other doctor in the same situation would have. Considerable damage results from medical malpractice include suffering, chronic pain, a notable loss of income, a permanent disability, or enduring hardships that were not present beforehand.
2. How do you know when someone falls victim to it?
Having a bad medical experience does not always mean the medical professional you worked with was negligent. But, if you believe you or someone you know has been a victim of medical malpractice, definitely conduct some research beforehand. Most malpractice lawyers will only pursue a claim if the injuries and damages are documented and can be proven as legitimate.
There are four basic requirements you must prove as a patient to have a sufficient medical malpractice claim. They include the following:
- You must prove the doctor-patient relationship existed. Ultimately, this means you need to show that you hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to be hired. You can’t sue a doctor for medical malpractice if they were never officially your doctor in the first place.
- You must prove the doctor was negligent. In order to sue for medical malpractice, you have to show the doctor you are suing performed their medical care in a way a normal, competent doctor would not have. Remember this: A doctor is not required to perform their care in the best possible way, but only in a way that is “reasonably skillful and careful.”
- You must prove that negligence caused injury. After proving the doctor was indeed negligent, you must show that their incompetence directly caused you injury or sickness. This typically requires a testimony from another medical expert.
- You must prove the injury led to specific damages that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred. Lastly, after proving everything above, you must show your injury or sickness led to other damages in your life, which could be physical pain, mental instability, enormous additional medical bills or the lost ability to work or earn an income.
These are the general guidelines for a successful medical malpractice case.
3. What should you do if it happens to you or someone you know?
Reach out to several malpractice lawyers about your situation of medical malpractice, and determine from there which one can help you best in regards to compensation. Keep in mind that not all claims make for winnable cases, but don’t let that deter you from seeking the justice you deserve.
In Oklahoma, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice varies, and it is ultimately dependant on whether the injured party is a child or adult. In general, though, an adult typically has two years from the date of the act to file a claim. After that time frame, patients can no longer sue for medical malpractice.
4. Can you do anything to prevent it?
We know you don’t have total control of what happens when it comes to a medical professional performing the proper care for your condition, but you can control what doctor you choose. We recommend finding a doctor with good reviews and one with an established, well-liked reputation in your community.
You can also research your condition and take note of the ways it is typically handled in most other cases. If a doctor is implementing a practice you think is incorrect, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions. Prevention isn’t totally in your control, but you can control certain aspects.
5. What types of medical malpractice are there?
There is a variety of medical malpractice types that malpractice lawyers help patients and victims of injury with, ranging from unnecessary surgery to premature discharge. However, there are three categories in which those claims can generally fall into. Those three types of medical malpractice include the following:
- Failure to diagnose. If a doctor did not discover a certain illness or made a wrong diagnosis, and as a result, the patient did not achieve the best possible outcome for their health.
- Improper treatment. If the doctor at hand did not use a strategy a typical doctor would have or if the doctor implements the right strategy in an incorrect manner, and as a result, the patient’s overall health suffered.
- Failure to warn a patient of known risks. Before treatment or procedure, doctors are required to inform patients of any risks or side-effects. If the doctor at hand failed to do this, and as a result, the patient’s overall health suffered, this could make for a viable medical malpractice claim.
6. Commission vs. Omission
There are two legal distinctions between types of medical malpractice: malpractice by commission and malpractice by omission. Here are the primary differences between the two:
Malpractice By Commission
This type of malpractice is when a medical professional does something voluntarily that results in harm to the patient. For example, operating under the influence or completely treating the wrong body part.
Malpractice By Omission
This type of malpractice isn’t as severe as malpractice by commission, but is still a serious matter. It is when a medical professional involuntarily fails to perform a part of their job correctly. For example, refer a patient to a more relevant specialist or inform a patient of a serious health condition.
7. Why do people choose not to report medical malpractice?
There are several reasons patients choose not to report valid medical malpractice cases to malpractice lawyers. For one, they are afraid doctors won’t take on their cases if there’s a chance medical malpractice could occur. Secondly, they believe it could lead to an increase in their already-large medical bills. And lastly, they don’t always believe the cost of a personal injury lawyer and the headache of a trial is worth the trouble.
8. Who can help you find compensation for damages?
Malpractice lawyers are a great resource for helping you find legal compensation for the issues you ensue from an incident of medical malpractice. They can argue your case in court and explain how the doctor should have handled the situation and help you make up for lost time through adequate compensation winnings.
Schedule Your Free Case Evaluation
The Edwards Law Firm provides legal counsel for medical malpractice issues in the Tulsa area and other surrounding communities. Our malpractice lawyers believe you’re entitled to compensation for damages from medical malpractice, such as lost income, medical bills, money for pain and suffering and compensation for other permanent harm from the situation.
We’ve helped our clients win millions in compensation because we believe you should never have to pay for something that wasn’t your fault and in the hands of a professional! For more information or to schedule your free case evaluation with us today, call us at (918) 221-0516 or at our toll-free number at (888) 600-9836 during business hours. You can also fill out our online form.