A study by Johns Hopkins University found that about 1 in 10 deaths in America are a result of a medical mistake. That implies a staggering 250,000 individuals die due to some form of medical malpractice with many more suffering non-fatal injury.
These numbers demonstrate that no one is safe from becoming the latest addition to these grim statistics. It could happen to you, so it’s crucial that you know beforehand what actions you should take to safeguard your health and interests.
1. Switch to a Different Doctor
In many respects, a doctor has your life in their hands. With just one move, they could change your life forever positively or negatively. So if you suspect medical malpractice, don’t take any chances. Move to a different doctor as soon as possible to speed up the process of correcting or mitigating the negative health effects of the medical error.
The new doctor will likely want to go through your medical history and run a number of tests before they take action. Once they have certainty that they know what is going on, they can embark on the medical procedures needed to rectify the damage.
2. Request a Copy of Your Medical Records
Your medical records will show your medical history in extensive detail, including the symptoms you experienced, the tests performed and what medication was prescribed. This information can demonstrate that the doctor engaged in medical malpractice.
Let’s say that you were sent to the emergency room after experiencing chest pain. If your medical records show that there’s a history of heart disease in your family, but the doctor didn’t perform tests to confirm whether you were having an attack, the doctor could be accused of negligence.
It’s important that you ask for these records before you file a claim since the doctor or healthcare provider could attempt to change the information so as to avoid liability.
3. Maintain a Journal
Not everything that happens before, during and after a medical malpractice incident will necessarily be captured by your medical records. To make sure you are armed with as much information as possible, maintain a journal of your health.
Describe your health before the medical error and mention the symptoms experienced after the error. Explain how the medical mistake has impaired your quality of life (such as having to take breaks off work to undergo remedial treatment). The entries on your journal can be used as evidence for a claim.
4. Contact an Attorney
Few doctors will be willing to admit to medical malpractice as the consequences they may face legally, financially and career-wise can be devastating. In addition, medical malpractice cases can be extremely complex. The technical medical terminology isn’t something the average person will be conversant with.
Representing yourself could mean setting yourself up for failure. By engaging a medical malpractice lawyer with a proven reputation for winning malpractice cases in the past, you can greatly increase the odds of success. Explain the situation to the attorney in elaborate detail and provide all relevant documentation to support the case.
5. Do Not Discuss the Issue with Anyone Else
You and the doctor in question aren’t the only stakeholders when medical malpractice is suspected. There may be several other interested parties including insurance companies, healthcare providers, pharmaceutical firms, industry regulators, law enforcement and the press. Speaking to these parties can inadvertently jeopardize your case. A seemingly innocent discussion with any of them could easily dash your chances.
Don’t even discuss the incident on your personal social media account as there’s no guarantee the information won’t get to the defendant, their insurer or their attorney. Channel all conversations on the case through your attorney. Always assume that anyone prodding you for information is a potential adversary and act accordingly.
Don’t sit by as a doctor’s mistakes place you in harm’s way. Start your journey of healing and restoration by applying these tips on combating medical malpractice.